Do you find yourself avoiding your favorite ice cream because it hurts your teeth? Tooth sensitivity, particularly to cold temperatures, is a common dental concern. There are a number of different reasons for it and it certainly does not mean you have a serious dental problem, but you don’t have to endure cold sensitivity and miss out on the foods and drinks they love. You dentist can determine your specific cause of tooth sensitivity and help you treat the problem at its source.
Sensitive teeth may produce pain from cold, hot or even sweet stimulus. The reason you experience a startling and severe pain in your tooth after these exposures is because the tooth nerve is agitated, which registers a sensation of pain.
Here are some ways to identify common causes of cold sensitivity in your mouth:
- If you have neglected your routine dental checkups or slacked off on your hygiene habits, you can experience significant build-up of plaque. A build-up of bacterial plaque can damage your gums and bone and be an irritant, lowering the threshold at which pain is perceived and causing sensitivity.
- Gum Recession
- Receding gums are a very common cause of tooth sensitivity. Gum disease can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, leaving your tooth root surface more vulnerable and exposed. The problem here is that your tooth root does not have the enamel protection that your other tooth surfaces do, which makes it more sensitive to hot and cold.
- Grinding and Clenching
- If you have a Bruxism (tooth grinding) habit, you may be especially at risk for cold sensitivity. Over time, the force of grinding or clenching your teeth results in occlusal wear –loss of tooth structure at the biting surface. As your tooth wears down, the sensitive dentin can be exposed, creating temperature sensitivity.
- Tooth decay is another likely reason that you cannot eat ice cream anymore. In fact, one of the earliest signs of a cavity can be cold sensitivity.
- Lost Filling
- You may not be aware of a lost filling until you experience pain after drinking something cold. Even a partial missing filling can cause sensitivity because the inner tooth structure is exposed.
Tooth sensitivity can be mild or severe. Regardless of how disruptive it is to your daily life, always tell your dentist about your concern. If your dentist cannot immediately fix the problem, there are products you can use at home. For example, using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help strengthen your enamel and provide more protection against cold sensitivity.