For some people, a cold Coke on a hot New Jersey day is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it’s tasty, and it’s cold. On the other hand, that’s the problem — it’s cold. At least that’s a problem for 57 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 20 and 50. That group says they have some degree of cold sensitivity.
What causes some people to have tooth sensitivity to cold? Since we hear this complaint from many patients at Gentle Dental, let’s investigate.
The root is likely behind your sensitive teeth
There are some factors that can cause a tooth to become sensitive to cold. Most cold sensitivity occurs at or near the neck of the tooth or at the gumline. This happens because the dentin, the inner portion of the tooth, becomes exposed due to wear on the outer enamel. Also, it can be due to an exposed root surface (below the gumline), a cavity, or a loose filling. Most tooth sensitivity comes from an exposed root.
How do roots become exposed?
The crown of the tooth, the part above the gumline, is covered by enamel. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, so it provides great protection. But the roots don’t have enamel. They are covered by cementum, and beneath it, the dentin.
It seems odd that the tooth root can somehow become exposed. It’s not like your gums have suddenly decided to go for a walk! These factors can lead to a root being exposed:
- Improper toothbrushing
- Clenching or grinding the teeth
- Erosion due to acid
- Orthodontic treatments
How can we help with your tooth sensitivity?
When we hear from you that you are experiencing tooth sensitivity we will evaluate your tooth and suggest various treatment options — some are simple, some more involved.
- Using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth
- In-office or home fluoride treatments — fluoride strengthens the enamel and the dentin, reducing sensitivity
- Dietary changes — reducing acidic foods and drinks usually lessens sensitivity
- Crowns or bonded fillings to cover the exposed root area
- Gum grafting to cover the receding gums
- Root canal
Receding gums can be a sign of gingivitis and possible gum disease. Brushing too hard or with a toothbrush with firmer bristles can also make the gums recede, exposing the roots.
If you are noticing new tooth sensitivity to cold, give the team at Gentle Dental a call. We can get at the cause (GROAN) before it becomes a bigger issue. Call us (732) 549-5660 to make your appointment.