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My Tooth is Sensitive to Cold: What Can I Do?

As the weather heats up and we turn to chilled drinks and ice cream, many people may notice tooth sensitivities that force them to avoid certain foods. In many cases, a sensitive tooth can signify an underlying dental problem. If tooth sensitivity is cramping your summer style, it may be time for your next checkup.


Tooth Sensitive to Hot and Cold

Whether your tooth is sensitive to cold or heat (or even sugar), we usually experience sensitivity because of thinning enamel or a receding gum line. These two issues expose the tooth’s sensitive dentin to stimuli, which causes a flash of pain. Here are a few common causes of tooth sensitivity: 

  • Overzealous brushing. While giving your teeth a good hard scrub might seem like the best way to remove bacteria, it can actually damage the surface of your teeth and lead to sensitivity and discomfort.
  • Gum disease and tooth decay. Improper brushing and flossing can cause a receding gum line and tooth decay, a common cause of tooth sensitivity. One tooth sensitive to cold or heat may signify a cavity or other isolated problem.
  • Broken or damaged teeth. Cracks in the teeth or heavily worn enamel from teeth grinding can also expose your teeth’s sensitive dentin. If your back teeth are sensitive to cold, you should check with your dentist for signs of tooth grinding. Sudden tooth sensitivity to cold may also signify a crack or damage.
  • Fillings. It’s normal to find that your tooth is sensitive to cold after a filling, but this pain should disappear within a week or two. If it’s been longer, be sure to reach out to your dentist for a follow-up. Longer-term sensitivity may be a sign of an allergic reaction.
  • Tooth whitening treatments. Whether performed at home or in a professional’s office, tooth whitening can often cause sensitivity as a side effect. 

Get Relief When Your Tooth is Sensitive to Cold

Tooth sensitivity is different for everyone. Some people experience tooth sensitivity to cold but not hot food and drinks; others only develop a front tooth sensitivity to cold. No matter the cause of your tooth sensitivity, it’s essential to see a dentist and treat your symptoms at their root. However, you can still treat your symptoms and keep enjoying your favorite food and drinks in the meantime. 

To start, you might consider picking up a toothpaste geared towards treating sensitivity, though these treatments often require long-term repeated use to work correctly. Healthy brushing habits can reduce your chances of gum disease and tooth decay (two significant causes of tooth sensitivity) and prevent your brush from damaging your enamel. Your dentist might also recommend a fluoride treatment to help strengthen your enamel.


Only a Dentist Can Diagnose Tooth Sensitivity

No one wants to worry about why their tooth, or teeth, are sensitive to cold water in the middle of a warm spring or summer day. Rather than grinning and bearing the pain, we recommend seeing your dentist as quickly as possible after tooth sensitivity starts to address any problems before they get worse. If you have any questions about your tooth sensitivity or would like to schedule an appointment, we’d love to hear from you!