Do you have sensitive teeth, particularly to cold foods or beverages? If so, you’re not alone. More than half of all U.S. adults experience tooth sensitivity, and it’s one of the most common dental and oral health issues today.
Causes for this common condition are sometimes hard to pinpoint, but there seems to be several related factors that can make your teeth sensitive to cold.
Is there anything you can do to avoid sensitive teeth? What can you do to treat symptoms? Dr. Dental receives hundreds of patients every year with this problem, and there’s not one foolproof method to treat sensitive teeth.
Let’s look at what causes the sensitivity in the first place, along with some different ways to effectively treat the pain and discomfort.
Tooth Sensitivity: Root Causes (Hint: Sometimes It’s the Roots)
What causes your teeth to ache when exposed to cold drinks or foods, or even colder outside temperatures? It all has to do with a tooth’s protective coating. When the hard outer shell – called enamel – starts to wear away, the second inner later, known as dentin, becomes exposed.
Dentin is the last line of defense before the inner pulp and roots. Whenever any food, beverage or other (especially cold) substance comes in contact with dentin, sensitive nerve endings flare up. This is the basic process that causes teeth sensitivity. The condition can come and go with time, depending on things like:
- Temperature of food or beverages (colder = more painful).
- Condition of gums around teeth.
- Oral health habits – bacteria, plaque and food particles can accelerate inflammation, causing more pain.
- Overall health – some studies have shown that sinus infections and digestive disorders can cause severe tooth sensitivity.
And that’s not all. Sometimes, teeth sensitivity can increase due to dental or oral procedures. For example, there’s a good body of research that suggest teeth whitening – one of the fastest-growing practices in the U.S. today – can make teeth more receptive to cold. In one study, 1 in 10 people experienced moderate sensitivity, while nearly 5% reported severe symptoms.
Self-Treating Teeth Sensitivity
If you experience moderate to severe tooth pain from cold temperatures, try to:
- Eliminate sugary and sticky foods. Too much soda, sugar and processed carbohydrates are bad for your enamel and promote teeth sensitivity.
- Brush your teeth three times a day. If you’re only brushing your teeth once per day, that’s not enough. Try at least two times – preferably three – and see if that helps lessen the sensitivity.
- Avoid bleaching or whitening your teeth. As we’ve seen, this practice can make your condition worse. Common sense & disciplined oral healthcare will keep your teeth white naturally without added chemicals and procedures.
- Give another toothpaste or mouthwash a trial run. Mix up your dental care products by trying a new brand. Don’t be afraid to experience with a different mouthwash or floss. We recommend visiting your dentist to discuss these options.
Speaking of your dentist…keep reading!
Common Sense Approach to Sensitive Teeth: Visit your Dentist
When popsicles are painful, when ice cream becomes unbearable, and when a cold drink means clenched teeth, it’s time to stop by your nearest Dr. Dental office. We’ll conduct a thorough analysis of your oral health habits and other factors to determine the best treatment plan moving forward. Many times, teeth sensitivity can be resolved by tweaking a few bad habits.
Regardless of your level of discomfort, Dr. Dental is here to help eliminate your sensitivity to cold foods and drinks. Visit any one of our offices today – we have dozens of dental care facilities throughout the greater New England region.
Our everyday deals and discounts are a great way to start a better oral healthcare regimen today. Our new patient cleaning can help detect problems before they start – including teeth sensitivity. We look forward to seeing you soon – and thanks for stopping by the Dr. Dental blog!