Explaining Tooth Sensitivity and How to Manage It

Man with tooth sensitivity to cold eats ice cream


Do you feel discomfort or even pain when eating or drinking anything cold? If so, you’re not alone! Many people deal with sensitive teeth, especially when exposed to cold. 

Most Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity to Cold

Tooth sensitivity to cold can stem from many underlying factors. Understanding these causes is the first step in managing your symptoms. 

Related Post: Northside Dental Clinic’s Guide to Sensitive Teeth

Here are some of the most common reasons why your teeth might be sensitive to cold:

  • Enamel erosion: The enamel is the protective outer layer of a tooth. The enamel can wear down over time due to acidic foods and drinks, aggressive brushing, or bruxism (teeth grinding).  When this protective layer is lost, the dentin layer underneath is exposed. This makes teeth more susceptible to temperature changes.
  • Gum recession: Receding gums, often caused by gum disease or improper brushing, can expose the roots of your teeth. These roots lack protective enamel and are more sensitive to cold.

Related Post: Can Gum Recession be Reversed?

  • Dental decay: Cavities can lead to sensitivity when consuming cold foods or drinks. 
  • Cracked or fractured teeth: Cracks in the teeth can allow cold temperatures to go deeper into the tooth, triggering discomfort.
  • Dental procedures: Temporary sensitivity following teeth whitening, dental fillings, or crown placements is not uncommon. This sensitivity typically resolves on its own.

Tips for Managing Cold-Sensitive Teeth

You can take several steps to help manage your tooth sensitivity to cold. 

Use a Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth 

Switching to a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth can help desensitize your teeth over time. Look for products with ingredients like potassium nitrate or fluoride, which help block nerve signals and strengthen the enamel.

Practice Gentle Brushing 

Avoid brushing your teeth too hard, this can make enamel erosion and gum recession worse. 

We recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle brushing to effectively clean your teeth without causing further damage.

Limit Cold or Acidic Foods and Beverages

It sounds simple, but if cold treats make your teeth feel more sensitive, limit your exposure to cold foods and drinks. We recommend not directly biting into cold foods and using straws to keep iced drinks from touching your teeth. 

Related Post: Is Diet Soda Better for Your Teeth?

Acidic foods and drinks can also contribute to cold sensitivity by worsening enamel erosion. Limit how often you consume acidic food and beverages like lemons, limes, tomatoes, soda, and wine. 

If you eat or drink these, rinse your mouth with water afterward to neutralize acid exposure! 

Wear a Mouthguard

If you grind your teeth at night, wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard can help protect your teeth from further damage and reduce sensitivity. 

To get the right night guard, you must talk to your dentist or the team at Northside Dental Clinic. A professional can fit you for the correct guard. 

Stop at Home Whitening Treatments 

If you notice your teeth are sensitive to cold, especially after whitening them at home, stop the treatments immediately. Over-the-counter treatments can increase sensitivity and gradually reduce enamel. 

We know everyone wants a bright-white smile, which is why we offer safe, professional treatments in our Springfield, Missouri, office. 

Regular Dental Checkups

We’ve all heard it before — you need to visit your dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning! 

It can be hard to remember, but regular dental visits can help identify and address potential causes of tooth sensitivity early on. Your dentist can assess your oral health and recommend treatments for cold sensitivity.

How a Dentist Can Help Manage Tooth Sensitivity

While you can do a lot at home to provide relief, professional dental care is crucial for addressing the root cause of your tooth sensitivity to cold. 

Desensitizing Treatments

In-office treatments, like fluoride varnishes or dental bonding agents, can help reduce tooth sensitivity by strengthening enamel and blocking nerve signals.

If your cold sensitivity is caused by severe gum recession, gum grafting surgery might be necessary to cover exposed roots.

Dental Fillings or Crowns

If tooth decay or damage is causing your sensitivity to cold, a dentist may recommend fillings or crowns to restore the tooth and protect it from further deterioration.

When tooth sensitivity is caused by infection or damage to the tooth pulp, root canal therapy may be necessary to remove the affected tissue and alleviate symptoms.

Orthodontic Treatment

Misaligned teeth or bite issues can also contribute to tooth sensitivity. Orthodontic treatment, such as clear aligners like Invisalign, can correct these alignment problems.

Sensitive Teeth? Call Northside Dental Clinic. 

If your teeth are sensitive to the cold, don’t hesitate to contact Northside Dental Clinic in Springfield, Missouri, at (417) 862-2468. Our team can provide treatment options to help alleviate the issue. Your comfort and oral health are our top priorities!