Tooth sensitivity to cold temperatures can be a real bummer, especially when it’s a hot, sunny day and you’re really craving ice cream or an ice cold lemonade.
These normally soothing and refreshing moments can be quite painful and uncomfortable if your teeth are sensitive to coldness, and when this happens, you should see a dentist.
Sensitivity to cold drinks and food isn’t that uncommon, and in order to get rid of it, it’s important to know why it’s happening in the first place. Like all health issues, especially those that cause pain, it’s never a good idea to leave it untreated.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms are quite obvious and the main one is pain or discomfort after you eat or drink something cold. It can happen suddenly and the pain level varies; it can be mild, moderate or severe.
Some people that experience tooth sensitivity also feels pain when they brush their teeth and sometimes when they floss too. Pain to these otherwise innocuous activities should be dealt with quickly.
When brushing your teeth or flossing becomes a painful experience, the most common response is to avoid it, so this usually leads to poor dental hygiene, which will surely make matters worse. It can lead to gum disease, cavities, or even tooth loss.
What causes tooth sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is usually a symptom of something else and it can range from a minor problem to a very serious one. Which is why it’s important to find out why it’s happening. Some of the reasons why you would feel pain when ingesting cold foods or drinks include:
Brushing too hard:
- If you brush your teeth too vigorously and have a hard bristled brush to boot, that can cause your enamel to wear down. Enamel is the outer layer of the tooth and it protects the inner layer called dentin.
- If dentin becomes exposed, then the nerve endings of the tooth will be exposed too. When they come into contact with the cold, their response will be a sharp burst of pain.
- Another factor that can damage and wear down the enamel of the teeth and again, expose dentin. Foods like lemons, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, carbonated drinks, all increase the likelihood of the enamel wearing down.
- Having a good dental hygiene routine is very important to prevent tooth sensitivity. If you allow plaque to build up along the gumline, this will become a perfect environment for bacteria to grow and possibly lead to your gums becoming infected and inflamed.
- If this occurs and isn’t treated, the gum tissue could get damaged and it will cause the gums to recede, exposing nerve endings on the root.
Grinding your teeth:
- If you have a problem with tooth grinding while you sleep or during the day, this can also expose the dentin as the enamel wears down.
- If you have a cavity that hasn’t been treated or if an old filling has fractured or fallen out, those nerve endings in the dentin are exposed.
- Basically, anything that can lead to your dentin becoming exposed to contact with what you eat and drink can be listed as a cause for tooth sensitivity.
How is it treated?
The first step is to go to the dentist. Tooth sensitivity isn’t something you can treat at home. You may be able to get rid of the pain for a while with some home remedies but to treat the actual problem, you need to see a certified dentist.
Once the dentist makes diagnoses on where and why the dentin is exposed, they will carry out a treatment plan that will restore the health and function to your teeth.