Ouch! Maybe it’s a fresh smoothie, a spoonful of ice cream, or even just a sip of ice water—but there it is, throbbing tooth pain.
There are many reasons why you might be experiencing tooth sensitivity to cold. Fortunately, you can take several steps to remedy this yourself, including checking with your dentist.
Other symptoms often accompany sensitivity to cold, including:
- Sensitivity to hot foods
- Pain when biting or chewing
- Persistent dull or throbbing tooth pain
But what conditions cause these kinds of tooth sensitivity?
Tooth enamel, the hardest substance in your body, covers your tooth above the gumline. However, the root of your tooth, the part normally covered by your gums, does not have this protective layer. If you don’t brush and floss regularly—or if you brush and floss too vigorously—your gums may recede, exposing the roots of one or more of your teeth.
If you have exposed roots, the best course of action is to follow general oral hygiene. Continue brushing and flossing, but use a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste specifically made for sensitive teeth. If the pain continues, though, make sure to see your dentist.
Small cavities can also become sensitive to cold food or drinks. Cavities occur in the enamel itself, and expose the nerve inside your tooth to cold, heat, and other sources of discomfort.
While you should continue flossing and brushing, you should see a dentist to diagnose and treat your condition. If the cavity is small, a dentist can remove the decayed area and fill the tooth. If it’s more serious, you may need a root canal to clean out the decay, disinfect the root, and seal the tooth.
Sensitivity after Dental Work
Sometimes dental work can temporarily cause your teeth to become sensitive to cold or hot foods, from a few days to a week or longer if you’ve had a filling or a crown placed.
In these cases, over the counter pain relievers like aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen should bring you relief. But if the pain persists or worsens, definitely contact your dentist!
How Can I Get Rid of Tooth Pain?
In general, you can address temporary tooth sensitivity to cold with the standard elements of good oral hygiene: regular brushing and flossing, as well as routine preventive care visits to your dentist. Consider using toothpaste specifically made for sensitive teeth or adding a fluoride mouth rinse to your daily routine.
However, if your sensitivity lingers, it could indicate that you have a more serious dental condition. The pulp—the interior of your teeth—could be damaged, either from long-term tooth decay or an injury. It’s important to see a dentist before you develop an infection that could put your tooth at risk.
If you have any concerns over increased or recent tooth sensitivity to cold—or heat— Douglas B. Weber, DDS is always here to help. Make an appointment and get your tooth checked out before it has a chance to turn into something more serious.
A breath of crisp winter air, a sip of hot cocoa, a bite out of a sweet candy cane — all of these have two things in common: They remind us of the rapidly approaching holiday season, and though less pleasant, each can also trigger the sharp, unexpected pain associated with tooth sensitivity.
What Is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is experienced as a sharp, sudden pain that is felt in the tooth and gum areas. It occurs when gum and enamel loss expose the sensitive surface of the teeth that lie beneath, called dentin. Dentin is less dense than enamel and contains thousands of tubes that lead to the tooth’s nerve center, called the pulp. Once the protective cover is lost, heat, cold, and sweet and acidic foods can reach the nerves inside the tooth through the tubes, eliciting a pain response. Fortunately, once the cause of tooth sensitivity is identified, there are options for treating it and restoring optimal oral comfort.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Some of the things that lead to tooth sensitivity include:
- Overbrushing, brushing too hard, or brushing with a hard-bristle toothbrush
- Grinding and clenching teeth
- Tooth decay located near the gumline
- Plaque buildup
- Tooth-whitening products
- Gum disease
- Fractured tooth
- Dental work
Preventing Tooth Sensitivity
The key to preventing tooth sensitivity is maintaining good oral-hygiene practices. Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and rinsing regularly will go a long way toward keeping your gums and teeth healthy and strong. The following are additional steps you can take for reducing tooth sensitivity:
- Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently
- Avoid foods and beverages that are acidic
- If you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about getting a mouth guard to wear when you sleep
- Brush with toothpaste for sensitive teeth
- Keep your enamel strong by using products with fluoride
Treating Tooth Sensitivity
The manner in which tooth sensitivity is treated largely depends on the condition that led to it or the situation that is causing it. If sensitivity is resulting from a cavity or a chip in a tooth, a restoration can be placed to fix it. However, if sensitivity results from exposed dentin, there are treatments designed to reduce the discomfort.
- Fluoride varnish can be applied to the vulnerable, exposed areas of your teeth.
- A mouth tray with a high concentration of fluoride in the form of foam can be placed in your mouth for five minutes. This treatment strengthens weak areas.
- The bonding agent used to adhere restorations to teeth can be used to put a protective seal over the surface of the dentin.
- Gum tissue can be moved from one area of the mouth to an area where tissue has been lost from the root with a gum graft.
If you think you might be suffering from gum sensitivity, call us today at (661) 952-7865 to set up an appointment and find out more about what you can do to restore your oral comfort before the holidays hit.