Reasons Why your Teeth are Temperature Sensitive
Do you find that eating ice cream or drinking hot coffee causes pain in your teeth? You may have sensitive teeth. It’s a common condition, affecting about 45 million people in the United States, but it can be painful and difficult. What causes teeth to be temperature sensitive? More importantly, what can be done about it?
Your dentist can help you determine the underlying cause of the sensitivity, though the reason teeth become sensitive is typically always the same. Teeth are made of three layers, the enamel, the dentin, and the pulp. The enamel is the hard, outer layer of the teeth, and it protects the softer, inner layers. Below the enamel is the dentin, which is made up of microscopic tubes leading to the innermost layer- the pulp. Within that pulp is the nerve system of the teeth, and dental sensitivity happens when the dentin layers or the nerves are stimulated by something hot or cold. The cause of this stimulation varies.
Cold sensitivity can be caused by tooth decay or gum disease. It can also be the result of brushing too aggressively, using abrasive toothpaste, or using a hard-bristled toothbrush, which can all wear away at the enamel. Tooth grinding or clenching can chip the teeth or damage tooth enamel, which can also cause sensitivity to cold. Receding gums and cracks in a tooth can leave that tooth vulnerable to the cold. If your teeth are sensitive to heat, though, it could have a different cause. Dental treatments like teeth whitening can lead to heat sensitivity, and so can teeth cleanings, root planning, and dental crown or filling placement. If you consume a diet that’s high in acids, found in foods like coffee, tomato sauce, and wine, it can lead to enamel loss and heat sensitivity. People struggling with gum disease often have sensitive teeth, because 80 percent of tooth sensitivity begins at the gum line.
If your teeth are highly sensitive and react to both heat and cold, the best thing to do is see a dentist to determine the cause and the best course of treatment. If the sensitivity is minor, though, you may be able to manage it at home. You can reduce the discomfort of mild temperature sensitivity by making a few changes.
- Instead of letting hot and cold liquids touch your teeth, use a straw.
- Reduce your consumption of acidic foods.
- Change to a softer bristled brush and be careful not to brush too hard.
- Switch to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
- Ask your dentist which mouthwash to use; some mouthwashes can irritate your dentin and pulp layers.
- Wear a mouthguard to prevent teeth grinding at night.
There are also treatments that dentists offer to improve dental sensitivity. If you find that your sensitivity is not improving after a few days, talk to your dentist about the best treatment for you. It could be as simple as fluoride therapy, or it could be a more involved procedure like a root canal or a gum graft. Dental restorations like a filling, inlay, onlay or crown can also protect damaged teeth and help with sensitivity. Nervous about seeing the dentist? We provide sedation dentistry for your comfort.
If you are looking for a dentist to help with tooth sensitivity, it makes sense to choose the practice voted Best in New York. At Park 56 Dental Group, we offer pediatric, prosthodontics, endodontics, oral surgery, Invisalign®, emergency, and sedation dentistry, all at the highest level of treatment. We serve the Midtown, Central Park, Upper East Side, Park Avenue, and all surrounding Manhattan and New York areas, with a patient-centered practice that has hours to fit your schedule. Schedule your complimentary consultation today by contacting us online or calling us at (212) 826-2322.
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