As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, cavities typically don’t cause pain or sensitivity. However, tooth pain or sensitivity is a common chief complaint from patients. Dentists go through many tests to find out the cause of pain. We do this to arrive at a solution so that our patients can be comfortable. Sometimes, the solution requires treatment. Other times, the solution can be as simple as changing toothpastes. Each week, for the coming month, I will explore a different type of tooth sensitivity.
Below are some common forms of cold sensitivity or pain. I explore root causes and potential solutions as a guide to supplement discussions you have with your Kitchener Dentist.
Sensitivity to Cold
This is a really common finding among patients. For some people, the sensitivity is so severe that they can no longer tolerate drinking even room temperature water. So, what are the causes of intense cold sensitivity and what can be done to provide relief?
Typically, cold sensitivity is the result of exposed dentin. Dentin is the tooth layer right under your outer layer of enamel. There is no nerve supply to your enamel so it is resistant to cold. There is nerve supply to your dentin. So, how does your dentin become exposed?
- Gum recession. When gums recede, they reveal tooth root which is made up of dentin. If your root is no longer insulated by gum tissue, you may experience mild-extreme cold sensitivity.
- Enamel Wear/Attrition. Typically, patients who grind their teeth will experience loss of enamel over time. This commonly occurs on the biting surfaces of teeth. When the enamel wears off, it exposes dentin. Again, this dentin can be very, very sensitive to cold.
Dentin on the tooth root or on the biting surfaces will usually look bright yellow and sometimes orange. If you see these areas in your mouth, they are likely to be contributing to sensitivity you experience. What can you do about it?
Cold Sensitivity Treatment Options From Your Kitchener Dentist!
Let’s start with the most conservative and least invasive options first. If these work, you may not need treatment. Let’s see if we can save you time and money.
- Anti-Sensitivity Toothpaste. If you don’t already use an anti-sensitivity toothpaste, try one! Sensodyne is the most popular brand. Colgate and Crest now make anti-sensitivity toothpastes as well. It may take 1-2 weeks to notice improvement.
- Topical Desensitizers. Your Kitchener Dentist can apply topical liquids to your sensitive teeth to help diminish sensitivity. Sometimes this has a big effect. Other times, you may still experience residual sensitivity. If either of the first two options work, it won’t cost you much and you won’t have to undergo dental treatment.
- Root/Tooth Sealants. Your Family Dentist can apply dental filling or sealant material to sensitive roots or areas of dentin exposure on the biting surfaces of your teeth. This will cover the hypersensitive areas and provide immediate relief.
- Gum Grafting (Connective Tissue Grafting). This works only for sensitivity due to gum recession. Gum tissue from the roof of the mouth is placed over exposed roots. This treatment rebuilds gum tissue lost to recession.
Ask your Kitchener Dentist about these potential options for alleviating moderate-extreme cold sensitivity. If you would like to discuss options for alleviating tooth sensitivity with me, please call us at (519) 576-8160 or request a consult here.
Thanks for reading!
Written by Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Dentist
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental condition or treatment.