Our teeth are incredibly strong and capable of crushing the food we need to nourish our bodies. In fact, the outer layer protecting your teeth is stronger than steel.
Yet, our teeth are also incredibly sensitive. Under a layer of harder-than-steel tooth enamel, our teeth are vulnerable. So our oral health routine is crucial in maintaining the strength of our teeth and keeping sensitivity low.
But suppose you’re wincing with an icy glass of water or skipping your favourite cold snack. In that case, you might be experiencing an increased sensitivity to the cold.
Cold sensitivity can occur for various reasons, even if you practice good oral habits. Regular dental exams and cleanings can detect changes to your oral health and reduce the risks of developing tooth sensitivity. In addition, your dentist can work with you to manage your cold sensitivity and help prevent your tooth sensitivity from becoming a dental emergency.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Your tooth may react to cold, heat, pressure, or other stimuli, but cold sensitivity is the most common form of tooth sensitivity.
Common causes of tooth sensitivity are:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Worn fillings
- Fractured teeth
- Exposed tooth root
- Damaged tooth enamel
Your teeth can also be more sensitive after a dental procedure. The sensitivity often fades with time but can be permanent. Fillings, inlays, or crowns that fit poorly can irritate your teeth and gums. An improper fit can leave gaps where dental plaque can form and infiltrate the vulnerable layers under your enamel.
The improper fit might result from the initial procedure or wearing and shifting over time. If you experience continued discomfort after a dental procedure or feel symptoms in an area with previous dental treatment, book an appointment with your dentist. The sooner you seek help, the more likely the treatment or repair will be minor.
Sensitivity Caused by Tooth Decay
Tooth sensitivity can be a result of tooth decay. Tooth sensitivity can occur in any of the 5 stages of tooth decay. However, it’s more common when your tooth enamel is eroded in the later stages.
Enamel is an outer layer covering your teeth, protecting teeth from acid, bacteria, and other damage. It’s the hardest substance in your body, but it can still be worn down, resulting in cavities.
The symptoms of cavities:
- Tooth pain
- Tooth staining
- Tooth sensitivity (cold or hot)
- Hole or pit in the tooth
- Lingering sensitivity to sweets
Tooth Sensitivity Caused by Gum Disease
Periodontal disease, gingivitis, or gum disease result from a bacterial infection caused by plaque and tartar.
Gingivitis is treatable, but diagnosing the condition sooner can help you avoid worsening symptoms. Common symptoms of receding gums include:
- Pain at gumline
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Exposed tooth roots
- Red or swollen gums
- Visible gum recession
- Bleeding after brushing or flossing
If gum recession exposes a root, you may develop severe symptoms or none at all. However, the symptoms of an exposed root commonly include tooth sensitivity, including hot, cold, acidic, sweet, or sour.
Sensitivity Caused by Damaged Teeth
Each tooth has layers essential for nourishing and protecting your teeth. Damage to a tooth can impact how those layers function.
For example, a chipped tooth might result in an opening in the enamel layer, weakening your tooth against acids and bacteria. However, if the damage is minor, you might experience minimal symptoms after your dentist repairs the tooth.
If the injury is severe and you don’t seek emergency dental care, the symptoms can worsen or develop additional oral health issues.
Some symptoms and complications caused by a chipped tooth include:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Bad breath
- Sour or foul taste
- Pain when eating
- Gumline irritation
- Swollen glands in neck or jaw
How to Reduce Cold Sensitivity
Reducing your cold sensitivity starts with practicing oral health habits. Adults should develop an oral health plan and follow the recommendations of their dentist. For parents, you can learn how to support your child with the Canadian Dental Association’s guide on children’s dental care.
Here are some tips for treating your tooth sensitivity and protecting your teeth:
- Saltwater rinse
- Desensitizing mouthwash
- Desensitizing toothpaste
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks
- Use a toothbrush for sensitive teeth
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication
Tooth discomfort can impact your life. Avoiding the cold should be your choice, not your tooth. If you can’t find relief with over-the-counter methods, your dentist can offer more treatment options.
Visit Us for More Options
For any questions about your cold sensitivity, book an appointment for a dental exam. We’re here to discuss your oral care and options for relieving your tooth sensitivity. Your cold sensitivity shouldn’t limit your choices. Visit Markham Dental Smiles to keep your smile comfortable and healthy.