Tooth sensitivity can be a real drag, causing pain when you drink or eat something cold — and sometimes even when you just breathe. However, figuring out why your teeth hurt like this can be a lot of trial and error and waiting to see if certain changes help. Nonetheless, it’s important not to ignore the symptoms or you risk the sensitivity getting worse.
Tooth sensitivity can be caused by poor brushing technique, whitening toothpastes, grinding, gum disease, plaque build up, chipped teeth, or problems with old fillings. You can try changing your brushing technique or toothpaste type, but be sure to visit a dentist if the sensitivity persists.
Pain in your teeth is never something you should ignore. So, let’s take a closer look at what might be causing your tooth pain and what you can do about it.
Why Is Your Tooth So Sensitive to Cold?
There are several reasons why your teeth might be especially sensitive to cold temperatures. Figuring out the reason is the first step toward solving the issue.
Here are some of the potential causes:
Contrary to popular belief, you can definitely brush your teeth too hard — and many people do. Excessive force with a toothbrush can wear down the protective layers over your teeth and the overlying gum tissue.
If you continue to brush aggressively, you wear down the tooth, which then leads to the nerves being exposed. That, in turn, causes sensitivity from hot, cold, or acidic foods.
A lot of people grind their teeth, especially at night while sleeping. Doing this can wear away the tooth enamel, and without treatment, the dentin in the middle of the tooth can become exposed.
In order to remove teeth stains, some toothpaste manufacturers include harsh oxidizing chemicals in their products. These chemicals can make your teeth appear more white, but they can also make them more sensitive to cold.
Receding gums is a common problem that can occur with aggressive brushing. When your gums recede, it exposes the porous root, which can cause pain when touched or exposed to differing temperatures.
With good brushing technique and regular flossing, plaque shouldn’t cause an issue. However, if plaque remains on your teeth, then the acid it produces will start to dissolve your tooth enamel and cause sensitivity as the protective layer is eroded.
When a tooth gets chipped, it can expose the nerve endings in the middle of the tooth, resulting in some tooth sensitivity when it comes into contact with hot or cold foods. It could also be sensitive when you bite down or touch it.
Trouble With Old Fillings
Over time and with the pressure of your teeth, fillings can fracture, weaken, or leak around the edges. Unfortunately, when this happens, it can allow bacteria to enter the small crevices and generate acid that will then begin to break down the tooth structure.
This, in turn, will not only cause tooth sensitivity but also bad breath.
Does Tooth Sensitivity Go Away?
Yes, tooth sensitivity can go away, but rarely will it do so on its own. A tooth doesn’t randomly become sensitive, and the situation usually requires some kind of change.
You may need to alter the way you brush, change the toothpaste you use, or make a visit to the dentist for more serious treatment.
How Do You Fix Teeth Sensitivity?
At Home Treatment
The reason why your tooth is sensitive determines how to go about fixing the issue. For that reason, the first thing you want to do is find out why the tooth might be sensitive, and if the problem affects just one or several teeth.
After you figure out the cause, there are a few things you can try before heading to the dentist:
- Use a Straw: Instead of drinking from an open glass, try using a straw that will allow the liquid to bypass your teeth and prevent that sensitive touch.
- Reduce Acidic Foods: Acidic food and beverages can be tough on teeth that have enamel problems. Lowering your consumption of these types of foods can go a long way in reducing the overall sensitivity.
- Change Your Toothbrush: Always use a soft bristle toothbrush (on Amazon) and brush lightly in circular motions and upward from the gums.
- Change Your Toothpaste: Switch your toothpaste to a sensitive variety that will help rebuild enamel and offer extra protection to your sensitive teeth. We recommend Sensodyne Pronamel Toothpaste (on Amazon).
- Change Your Mouthwash: Some mouthwashes can be harsh on teeth, but there are many varieties that can help reduce the sensitivity without irritating the dentin or pulp layers of your teeth. Try Sensodyne’s Pronamel Mouthwash (on Amazon).
Unfortunately, some issues that cause sensitivity in teeth do require a dentist for diagnosis and treatment. Here are some of the possible treatments they’ll recommend:
- A Mouthguard: A visit to the dentist might be in order to get a mouthguard if you grind or clench your teeth at night. Wearing one can help alleviate the sensitivity of your teeth by reducing the pressure on your teeth overnight. It will also help protect teeth from being worn away and flattened.
- Fluoride Therapy: There are at home fluoride treatments that can help decrease tooth sensitivity, but your dentist might also offer a fluoride varnish application every six months during your regular dental exams.
- Root Canal: Sometimes damage is irreparable or so severe that nothing else seems to help. A root canal is an option if the damage has reached into the nerve structures of the tooth. This procedure involves removing the nerve and pulp of the tooth, disinfecting the area and then putting a dental crown on it.
- Gum Graft: With receding gums and gum disease, sometimes a gum graft is needed to protect the tooth roots and eliminate the sensitivity.
- Tooth Repair: If there are cracks, chips or cavities in your tooth, a dentist can repair it with fillings, inlays, onlays, or dental crowns.