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Why Are My Teeth Sensitive to Cold?

Cold sensitive teeth are both annoying and worrisome.  In this article learn when you need to see a dentist and how to improve chronically sensitive teeth.

Toothache vs Cold Sensitivity

It is not unusual for healthy teeth to be sensitive to cold. I'm talking about teeth that react to cold and recover quickly.

This kind of sensitivity is annoying when you are trying to eat ice cream but cold sensitive teeth don't always need treatment.  

However teeth that keep aching after the cold is removed may indicate a cavity or abscess.  The longer and more intense the ache the more urgent the problem may be.  Teeth that have worsened from being just overly reactive to achy should be evaluated by a dentist.

Causes of Cold Sensitivity

Gum recession - When gums recede, the root of the tooth is exposed.  Roots do not have the protective layer of tooth called enamel.  They are more likely to be sensitive and also more prone to cavities and erosion.  

Clenching or grinding - Constant clenching and grinding can make your teeth hurt.  Learn more about how clenching and grinding here

Tooth decay - Also called a cavity. Cold sensitivity is one sign of tooth decay.  But, not all cold sensitive teeth have a cavity and not all cavities are cold sensitive.

A new filling - Some new fillings are cold sensitive.  Short term and minor tooth sensitivity is not unusual.  See your dentist if the problem does not improve.

Your age - Younger people have more sensitive teeth.  As we age, the nerves of our teeth get smaller and teeth become less sensitive.  

How to Improve Cold Sensitive Teeth

teeth sensitive to cold

Once you have ruled out a dental problem that needs treatment there are several ways to improve sensitive teeth.  It is important to remember that a sensitive home remedy may not work immediately.  If you are using mouthwash or toothpaste for sensitivity it may take a couple weeks before you notice improvement.   

Toothpaste or mouthwash - What's the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth?  Sensodyne is the most commonly recommended and works well for most.  I prefer fluoride mouthwash or toothpaste like ACT mouthwash or Prevident Fluoride gel.  Fluoride improves sensitivity and prevents decay.  Sensitive teeth are also more prone to decay.   Avoid abrasive toothpaste.  More about toothpaste abrasivity here.

Use a soft toothbrush - Firm toothbrushes or scrubbing teeth too hard can make them sensitive. Learn how to brush properly here.

Wear a night guard - Most tooth clenching and grinding occurs while sleeping.  Wearing a night guard prevents damage and improves tooth, jaw and muscle soreness. Custom night guards are best but you can save money by using an OTC guard.  More about night guards here.

See your dentist - If all else fails or even before you try sensitive teeth treatment.  A dental check-up will help you find a solution that best fits your needs.  

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