Tooth Sensitive to Cold? Here Is How to Fix It.

While we are still in full-blown winter, summer will be just around the corner. With it comes hot days that signal the return of icy cold beverages. While some look forward to indulging in snow cones and ice water, others are not so fortunate.

While we are still in full-blown winter, summer will be just around the corner. With it comes hot days that signal the return of icy cold beverages. While some look forward to indulging in snow cones and ice water, others are not so fortunate. That incredible shooting pain that one gets when taking a bite into ice cream or a cold beverage is enough to make anyone want to stay away from some of the best treats during summer.

Sadly, for over 40 million Americans tooth sensitivity is a real problem and sometimes a struggle. Unlike a brain freeze, which is also painful, tooth sensitivity occurs when a cold beverage or food makes contact with a portion of the tooth that has excessive wear. Having a tooth sensitive to cold is a good indication that there is excessive wear to the dentin. Luckily, there are things you can do to solve or reduce the side effects of toothache pain.

What causes sensitive teeth?

When many talk about having sensitive teeth, it is usually in direct correlation to the weather, and the food and drinks they consume. The sensitivity drives certain people to eliminate out of their diet certain foods that they might enjoy very much just for the sake of not feeling the extreme toothache pain associated with sensitivity. For most individuals, cold sensitivity starts at the neck or base at the tooth. It can also originate at the gumline. The whole tooth isn’t sensitive, just a portion that has dentin exposed.

This exposure can occur anywhere but often happens times with age. Dentin is the inner portion of the tooth that is covered by the crown’s enamel and gumline cementum. A wear down to the dentin isn’t the only way a person can be afflicted with having a tooth sensitive to cold. Cavities are a significant contributor to having sensitivity, and these can occur anywhere on the tooth, in multiple places, and on various teeth.

For those that have a few cavities and experience sensitivity to cold, it can be almost unbearable. The reason being, a cavity reaches the inner portion of the tooth, where the nerve and blood supply resides. When the cold food or drink goes into the cavity, it comes in direct contact with the nerve: the result, a shooting toothache pain.

Individuals who have dental treatment to fix a cavity aren’t out of the woods either. If the filling becomes loose or lost, the root will become exposed once more. It is vital that if you experience sensitivity to cold food and drinks, that you see the dentist right away to repair the lost filling.

What causes an exposed root?

For anyone that has a tooth sensitivity to the cold, even hearing the term exposed root is a cringe-worthy sentiment. An exposed root can occur for a number of reasons. One of the first is prolonging dental treatment and not maintaining good oral care habits. Visiting your dentist annually for cleanings and exams can identify many of the issues that may lead to having an exposed root, like a minor cavity.

If you see the dentist regularly, he or she will be able to fill the cavity, thus preventing the teeth sensitivity from happening. Any portion of the tooth that has exposed dentin or exposure to the root nerve can have the potential to cause pain. This is why it is extremely important to see your dentist for treatment. Once the enamel or cementum is worn down, you won’t be able to regenerate it. The dentin will be exposed allowing cold food and drinks to pass through quickly to the nerve. This is what is referred to as an exposed root.

Is there a severe toothache remedy?

There are a number of ways to eliminate a toothache. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers is the most effective method for most people. When used in conjunction with an oral analgesic, most can see almost instant relief. However, if the pain worsens, it may be time to call your dentist for additional treatment options.

Home remedies for tooth nerve pain

You may have noticed that there are several products available on the market to help tooth pain sufferers that can’t stand cold food or beverages. From different kinds of toothpaste to gels, these are all designed to numb the tooth allowing a person not to experience the pain. But are there any at-home remedies that are just as effective as seeing the dentist for a permanent solution?

Often people will delay going to the dentist because of cost, and finding at-home solutions is an alternative cost-saving measure. It is essential to note, that while there are band-aid fixes for having a tooth sensitive to cold, they aren’t always the best remedy. Instead, it is recommended that you visit the dentist. Some of the at-home remedies to try, revolve around over-the-counter analgesics like Ora-Gel. This is virtually the only product on the market that offers instant relief from toothache pain.

There are five at-home quick solutions, or rather things to avoid doing when dealing with teeth sensitivity.

The first is to remember to change your toothbrush every three months. It may seem like a simple act, but changing your toothbrush often and to a softer bristle can help reduce the amount of sensitivity you experience.

The second tip is to avoid acidic foods. Things like coffee, juice, tomatoes can all affect the teeth. Limit this food whenever possible.

For those that grind their teeth, wearing a mouthguard can help prevent further damage when sleeping. Wearing down the enamel on the crown of the tooth is a significant problem for nightly teeth grinders, by wearing a mouthguard you can stop wearing the enamel and possibly prevent cavities.

Using “for sensitive teeth” mouthwashes and toothpaste has also been known to be very helpful to tooth pain sufferers. Use according to manufacturers instructions, and remember to maintain good oral care habits.

A visit to the dentist for tooth sensitivity

Your dentist has many options available to help solve a tooth sensitive to cold foods. He or she may recommend tooth bondingfillingscrowns, or inlays to resolve the issue. Seeing your dentist is the best way to eliminate the problem of sensitivity not just temporarily but permanently.

Stephen Nozaki, DDS, MPH, DIDIA

Dr. Stephen Nozaki is the owner and lead dentist at Image Dental in Stockton. He is a dedicated professional born and raised in California's Central Valley. With a commitment to his community, he brings advanced dental techniques learned from extensive education and continuous training from around the world. A third-generation Japanese American, Dr. Nozaki has a rich background that includes international living and a deep passion for both dentistry and outdoor activities. His focus in dentistry aligns with his passion for cosmetics and dental implants.