If you dread drinking something icy cold or biting into a frozen treat because it sends shivers of pain through your teeth, you may be experiencing cold sensitive teeth.
This uncomfortable condition affects many people and can make eating and drinking some foods a miserable experience. The good news is there are several ways to manage cold sensitive teeth and reduce discomfort.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity to Cold?
Tooth sensitivity happens when the enamel on the outer layer of your teeth gets thinner or gum recession exposes the tiny tubules (microscopic pores) in your dentin (the layer under your enamel).
The nerves inside these tubules are then exposed to external stimuli like heat, cold, acidic or sugary foods. This stimuli causes the nerves to fire off pain signals to your brain. Several things can cause the enamel to thin or gums to recede, including brushing too hard, teeth grinding, gum disease, cavities and aging.
Tips to Reduce Cold Sensitive Teeth
If you’re dealing with cold sensitive teeth, there are several easy tips you can try at home to help reduce discomfort:
Use desensitizing toothpaste – Look for toothpastes containing ingredients like stannous fluoride, potassium nitrate, nano-hydroxyapatite, or strontium chloride. These work by blocking pain signals from the nerve endings in your teeth. Brush gently with desensitizing toothpaste twice a day.
Avoid trigger foods/drinks – Cold, acidic or sugary foods and drinks are common triggers for sensitive teeth. Avoid or limit foods like ice cream, cold beverages, sour candy, and citrus fruits as much as possible.
Drink through a straw – If you want to enjoy a cold drink, use a straw to bypass contact with your front teeth. Position the straw toward the back of your mouth as you drink.
Rinse with warm salt water – Rinsing with a warm salt water solution can help soothe sensitive teeth and provide temporary relief. Simply stir a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water and rinse for 30 seconds after meals.
Use sensitivity toothpaste – Toothpastes for sensitive teeth contain gentle polishing agents instead of abrasive ingredients. This helps prevent wearing down your enamel over time. SuperMouth offers a variety of toothpastes designed to support a healthy oral microbiome.
Have cavities treated – Untreated tooth decay exposes the inner dentin and nerves, making teeth extremely sensitive. See your dentist right away if you suspect a cavity.
Wear a night guard – Nighttime teeth grinding can wear down enamel. Ask your dentist about a custom night guard to protect your teeth.
Improve your oral hygiene – Prevent gum recession and sensitivity by brushing and flossing daily. Regular cleanings and checkups also help maintain healthy gums. Make sure you’re using a high-quality toothbrush as well.
Try at-home remedies – Products like clove oil and garlic have anesthetic properties that are good for your teeth and gums. Garlic is rich in certain compounds that strengthen tooth enamel and destroy the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Does Tooth Sensitivity to Cold Mean a Cavity?
If you’re asking yourself “why is my front tooth sensitive” or “why does it hurt to chew on this side of my mouth” – your first instinct might be to think you have a cavity. Don’t panic.
The causes of sensitive teeth range from harmless to serious, so it’s important to get evaluated. But it doesn’t always mean it’s a cavity. Your dentist can examine your teeth, take x-rays if needed and determine the best treatment.
When to See a Dentist for a Tooth Sensitive to Hot and Cold
While the above tips can help manage tooth sensitivity, it’s a good idea to see your dentist if you develop sudden, intense or persistent sensitivity that doesn’t improve with over-the-counter remedies. This could signify an underlying dental issue in need of treatment.
Make an appointment right away if sensitivity is accompanied by other symptoms like toothaches, cracks, chips or swelling.
All the finer details of how to care for your oral health and how to fix tooth sensitivity are discussed in Dr. Kami Hoss’s book, “If Your Mouth Could Talk.” Get a copy today!