What Causes Tooth Sensitivity to Hot and Cold?

Tooth Sensitivity to Hot and Cold - Woodinville

Dec 20, 2016 — by Cristin Dowd, DDS
Tags: General Dentistry Restorative Dentistry

A woman holding her hand to her jaw in painTooth sensitivity to hot and cold is a common complaint and may be an indication of an oral health problem. If tooth sensitivity is interfering with your daily life, it's time to consider your dental treatment options. Restorative dentistry treatments may be used to target the dental issues responsible for tooth sensitivity, helping to relieve pain and improve oral health. To learn more about your treatment options for tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, schedule a consultation with Woodinville, WA dentists Cristin Dowd and Ken Wu. In the meantime, read on to learn more about the causes of tooth sensitivity to hot and cold and how to alleviate it.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity to Hot and Cold?

Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold may occur in healthy teeth, but it is often a sign of an underlying oral health problem. Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold is generally felt as a sharp, sudden pain within the teeth when the teeth are exposed to hot or cold foods and drinks. Pain is often most severe when the teeth experience sudden changes in temperature, like taking a bite of hot soup and washing it down with ice water. Some patients may even experience tooth sensitivity when breathing cold air. Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold may be caused by one or more of the following:

  • Overuse, or misuse, of teeth whitening products
  • Enamel erosion
  • Cracks and damage within the enamel
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum recession
  • Brushing too aggressively

Tips to Alleviate Tooth Sensitivity to Hot and Cold

The best way to alleviate tooth sensitivity to hot and cold is to undergo a dental exam. A dental exam is essential for identifying the cause of tooth sensitivity and determining the right treatment plan.

Treatments may include dental restorations, like tooth-colored fillings and porcelain crowns, when sensitivity is caused by tooth decay or enamel erosion, or a gum graft when sensitivity is caused by gum recession. In addition to these treatments, patients may find relief from tooth sensitivity by following these tips:

  • Use toothpaste designed for tooth sensitivity: There are many over-the-counter specially formulated toothpaste products to help relieve tooth sensitivity. Switching to sensitive formula toothpaste can help alleviate symptoms with regular use.
  • Use light pressure when brushing: Aggressively brushing the teeth, using too much pressure, or a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear away the enamel and cause dental sensitivity. Use light pressure and switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush to protect the enamel and prevent tooth sensitivity.
  • Avoid extremes in temperature when eating and drinking: Exposing the teeth to rapid changes in temperature can cause tooth sensitivity to feel worse. Avoid rapid changes in temperature when eating and drinking. For instance, instead of drinking an ice cold beverage immediately after taking a bite of hot food, make sure your drink is room temperature.
  • Don't overuse or misuse teeth whitening products: It may be tempting to use teeth whitening products more frequently or for a longer duration than recommended to get bright white results, but overusing and misusing whitening products can lead to tooth sensitivity. Use teeth whitening products only as directed, or take a break from use altogether, to allow the teeth time to recover.

Which Treatments Are Right for You?

You don't have to suffer from tooth sensitivity. To find out which treatments can help alleviate your dental pain, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Dowd and Wu.

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