Is your tooth sensitive to cold? Whether it’s a cold drink, food or cold air, these factors can set off a sharp pain. This dental problem is linked to various causes. Luckily, most are easily reversible. Let’s go through the possible reasons you are experiencing this issue, and how to treat and prevent teeth sensitivity.

woman with a tooth sensitive to cold ice cream

Why Is My Tooth Sensitive to Cold?

Different reasons may be behind teeth pain due to a particular temperature. Here are a few common factors that you may want to look into:

1. Exposed roots

Teeth are bound to be more sensitive when the root structure is exposed. The teeth are covered by enamel, the hardest substance in the body. The layer of enamel can only cover the part of the tooth that is above the gumline. Because the root does not have the protective enamel, it can become exposed for many reasons. The root comprises microscopic dentinal tubules. Each of these tubes is linked to a nerve ending, transmitting the temperature of the foods and drinks. As a result, when the tubules are left exposed, your teeth will become sensitive to extreme temperatures.

2. Broken tooth

One of the main causes for a tooth sensitive to cold is either it is broken or it has lost a part of the filling. When the pain is severe, then you may be facing a break deep enough to expose the nerve.

3. Acute pulpitis

Pulpitis is a common dental issue described as an inflammation of the dental nerve. Tooth sensitivity is one the symptoms of acute pulpitis, many people also experiencing severe pain.

4. Brushing too hard

Unfortunately, many people have not been educated on the proper way to brush their teeth. A large number of people apply too much pressure when brushing. This action can cause abrasion to the teeth that may ultimately lead to the recession of the gum. Avoid this mechanical damage by using a soft toothbrush and learning the effective techniques of brushing the teeth.

woman brushing too hard

5. Abrasive toothpastes

If you brush your teeth accordingly but you still have teeth sensitive to cold, then there’s a chance you’re not using the right toothpaste. Whitening toothpaste, although helpful with obtaining a more pleasing color, may wear down the enamel. As a matter of fact, as you brush your teeth hard with whitening toothpaste, you will actually help them turn yellow. As the enamel gets thinner and thinner, the dentin, which is yellow, will start shining through. Use a sensitive toothpaste instead of those that contain harsh ingredients.

6. Bleaching

Many people bleach their teeth to get a sparkling white smile. However, not all individuals can go through the process without damaging their teeth. Bleaching causes erosion on the outer layer of the teeth because of the strong chemicals it contains. As the enamel erodes, your teeth become more and more sensitive to extreme temperatures, among many other factors.

A more gentle option would be using baking soda as a whitening agent.

7. Acid wear

Certain foods and drinks may also have an impact on the enamel. Acidic products, such as sodas, juices, citrus fruits, wine, and beer, may dissolve the enamel. This process of erosion happens right at the gumline, where the enamel is thinnest.  As we continue to eat and drink the harmful products, the enamel gets worn.

Change your diet by eliminating acidic foods and drinks. They will only aggravate the tooth sensitivity and may cause more severe issues. Additionally, never brush your teeth right after eating because acid softens the enamel, thus making the teeth more sensitive. You can neutralize the acid with a glass of milk instead.

Unfortunately, acid wear is not only dietary. Erosion may also be triggered by health problems. People with stomach problems such as gastric-oesophageal reflux have an increased chance of also developing dental problems. Investigate any health problem with your GP if your dentist has not been able to pinpoint the cause of the erosion.

8. Gum disease

If you have a tooth sensitive to cold, it may be a sign of gum disease. In this case, the sensitivity is due to the buildup of bacterial plaque that damages the gums and the bone. Because receding gums leave the root of the tooth exposed, your teeth will no longer be able to protect themselves from high or low temperatures.

9. Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding is another cause of enamel wear. This tooth-to-tooth contact that results in loss of tooth tissue is called dental attrition. This only occurs when the teeth rub over one another. This harmful habit can develop without even noticing it. It can happen during the day if we are stressed, or during the night, in our sleep.

Wearing an occlusal splint can help protect the teeth from further damage. If you only grind your teeth during your sleep, you can wear a mouth guard. You can find one in the oral care section of most drug stores.

What Can I Do about Tooth Sensitivity?

patient, dentist, and nurse

Now that you found out the possible reasons for your problem, you must do something about it. As mentioned, desensitizing toothpaste and a soft toothbrush may help you treat the problem, but the issue may lie deeper than this. Consequently, schedule an appointment with your dentist and explain the symptoms thoroughly.

When do I see a dentist about my sensitive teeth?

If the tooth sensitive to cold is painful for more than four days, then it’s time to consult a specialist about it. Don’t ignore the problem and do not rely on over-the-counter medicines to relieve the pain.

The first step to treating hypersensitivity is curing the cause. A specialist will most likely recommend one of the following treatment options:

  • Applying fluoride to the sensitive tooth or teeth to strengthen the enamel. This will help reduce the pain you feel when drinking or eating cold products. They may also recommend using prescription fluoride at home. It can be dispensed in different ways, from paste or varnish to mouthwashes.
  • Undergoing surgery to fix gum tissue loss. If the sensitivity is caused by gum disease, then you most likely need surgery to relieve some of the symptoms associated with the disease.
  • Applying bonding resin to the exposed surfaces of the teeth. It is not a painful procedure, and you will be placed under local anesthesia.
  • Getting a root canal for pulpitis. The only way to relieve the symptoms of irreversible pulpitis is to have a root canal treatment performed. The endodontist will remove the dead tissue and fill in the gap with a special material. For reversible pulpitis, however, a filling or deep cleaning may be sufficient.

Home Remedies for a Tooth Sensitive to Cold

There are a few natural remedies that can offer relief to a painful tooth. If your problem is not due to any disease or a serious dental condition, then these following treatment options can prove to be very effective:

1. Mustard oil and salt

Take one tablespoon of mustard oil and mix in one teaspoon of rock salt. With your index finger, apply the mixture on your teeth and gently massage the painful area. Leave it there for about 5 minutes. Afterward, you can rinse your mouth with water.

2. Water and salt

If you don’t have any mustard around the house, don’t worry – this alternative is the simplest you can put together. Take one glass of lukewarm water and add two teaspoons of normal salt to it. Mix the salt in very well until it dissolves. You can use this solution as a mouth rinse once in the morning and once before going to bed.

3. Asafoetida and lemon juice

If you love cooking spicy foods, then you have probably heard of asafetida. However, asafetida powder has more uses than just an ingredient in Indian and vegetarian recipes. You can ease your teeth pain by mixing some powdered asafetida with half a lemon juice. Warm the solution and apply it on the sensitive area. This remedy has been proven to offer relief from pretty much any type of toothache.

4. Garlic and salt

garlic and salt

Thanks to its antiseptic properties, garlic is one of the most fearful enemies of bacteria. Take a clove and crush it. Then add half a spoon of rock salt (make sure it’s powdered) and mix it in well. Using your finger, rub the paste on the affected area. It should ease any discomfort caused by a tooth sensitive to cold in just a few minutes.

5. Honey and warm water

Honey can help protect the enamel and prevent it from further decay. Take one spoon of honey and mix it in a glass of warm water. Use the solution to rinse your mouth a few times a day. Not only will it protect the sensitive enamel, but it will also soothe your tooth pain.

Remember to always investigate the cause of your problem with your healthcare professional. While a tooth sensitive to pain might not be a reason for concern, it may also indicate an underlying dental disease you must learn about as soon as possible. If your dentist advises you on using natural remedies to heal your aching teeth, we hope our suggestions prove to be successful in helping with your issue.

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