Are Your Teeth Sensitive to Cold?
Does taking a breath of the cold air through your mouth makes your teeth hurt? Do cold beverages or food give your teeth a sharp ache? Maybe even foods that are sweet or sour are a problem. If any of these situations apply, you probably have sensitive teeth.
The truth is that tooth sensitivity is fairly common. One in five adults has sensitive teeth, usually caused by eating or drinking something hot, cold, sweet or acidic as well as breathing cold air. Unfortunately for many, the pain caused by sensitive teeth makes it hard to enjoy favorite foods and beverages.
What causes teeth to become sensitive?
Sensitive teeth occur when gum tissue recedes (pulls away from the teeth), exposing the underlying layer of your teeth — the dentin. The roots are not covered by hard enamel. They contain thousands of tiny tubules leading to the tooth’s nerve center (the pulp). When these tubules are exposed, the hot, cold, or sweet substances can directly touch the nerve in your tooth, which results in the pain you feel.
Here are some behaviors that can lead to gum recession and exposed dentin:
- Aggressive brushing. Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down enamel cause recession of the gums.
- Teeth grinding. Grinding or clenching your teeth may wear down the enamel and expose underlying dentin.
- Use of whitening products. Over the counter products may be major contributors to sensitive teeth.
- Mouthwash use. Long-term use of mouthwashes that contain acids.
- Diet. Regular consumption of foods with a high acid content, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and tea, can cause enamel erosion.
- Recent routine dental procedures. Sensitivity can occur following teeth cleaning, root planing, crown placement, and tooth restoration. Sensitivity caused by dental procedures is temporary, usually disappearing in four to six weeks.
Is it possible to reduce tooth sensitivity?
Treatment can be simple as using a soft tooth brush and desensitizing tooth paste. Some other steps you can take to prevent tooth sensitivity include:
- Use fluoridated dental products. Daily use of a fluoridated mouth rinse can decrease sensitivity. Ask your dentist about available products for home use.
- Avoid teeth grinding. If you grind or clench your teeth, use a mouth guard at night.
- Maintain your family dental care at regular intervals. Get professional tooth cleaning, oral hygiene instructions, and fluoride treatments every six months.
If you want to find ways to reduce your tooth sensitivity, contact your dentist to schedule your next appointment.
Remember, beautiful teeth are healthy teeth!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry, which is at the heart of this Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center.