Sensitive teeth

Understanding Tooth Sensitivity to Cold: Causes and Solutions

Do you wince in pain when indulging in your favorite ice cream or sipping on a refreshing cold drink? If so, you're not alone. Many people experience tooth sensitivity to cold temperatures, which can put a damper on everyday activities and enjoyment. However, understanding the causes of this sensitivity and the solutions available can help you find relief and get back to enjoying your favorite cold treats without discomfort. Let's delve into why teeth become sensitive to cold and what your dentist can do to help.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity to Cold?

Tooth sensitivity to cold occurs when the protective enamel on the surface of your teeth wears down or becomes compromised, exposing the underlying dentin layer. Dentin contains microscopic tubules that connect to the nerves inside the tooth. When cold temperatures or other stimuli come into contact with these exposed tubules, it can trigger sharp, temporary pain or discomfort.

Several factors can contribute to enamel erosion and dentin exposure, leading to tooth sensitivity:

  1. Brushing too hard: Aggressive brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush or abrasive toothpaste can wear down enamel over time, making teeth more sensitive.
  2. Acidic foods and beverages: Consuming acidic foods and drinks such as citrus fruits, soda, or vinegar-based foods can weaken enamel, making teeth more susceptible to sensitivity.
  3. Gum recession: Receding gums can expose the sensitive root surfaces of teeth, increasing sensitivity to cold temperatures.
  4. Tooth decay or cavities**: Cavities and decay can compromise the integrity of the tooth structure, leading to sensitivity when exposed to cold.
  5. Dental procedures: Some dental treatments, such as teeth whitening or certain restorative procedures, can temporarily increase tooth sensitivity.

What Can Your Dentist Do to Help?

Fortunately, there are several solutions available to help alleviate tooth sensitivity to cold, many of which your dentist can provide:

  1. Desensitizing toothpaste: Your dentist may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste containing ingredients like fluoride, potassium nitrate, or strontium chloride. These toothpastes can help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, reducing sensitivity over time.
  2. Fluoride treatment: In-office fluoride treatments can strengthen enamel and help reduce tooth sensitivity. Your dentist may apply a fluoride varnish or gel to the affected teeth during a dental visit.
  3. Dental bonding or sealants: For cases of severe sensitivity or exposed root surfaces, your dentist may recommend bonding or sealants to cover and protect the exposed areas, reducing sensitivity to cold stimuli.
  4. Gum grafting: If gum recession is contributing to tooth sensitivity, your dentist may recommend a gum graft procedure to cover exposed root surfaces and protect them from cold temperatures.
  5. Custom mouthguards: If tooth sensitivity is caused by nighttime teeth grinding (bruxism) or jaw clenching, your dentist may prescribe a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect your teeth and alleviate sensitivity.
  6. Treatment of underlying dental issues: If tooth decay, cavities, or other dental problems are contributing to sensitivity, your dentist will address these issues with appropriate treatments such as fillings, root canal therapy, or other restorative procedures.

Final Thoughts

Don't let tooth sensitivity to cold put a freeze on your enjoyment of life's simple pleasures. By understanding the causes of sensitivity and seeking guidance from your dentist, you can take proactive steps to address the issue and find relief. Whether it's through desensitizing toothpaste, in-office treatments, or other interventions, your dentist can help you achieve a smile that's both healthy and comfortable, allowing you to savor every chilly bite and sip with ease.

Contact us

Mon - Fri 8:30 am -5:30 pm
Sat 8.30 am -1 pm

575 Riversdale Rd
Camberwell VIC 3124 AU

Monash University Health Service Dental Clinic (Clayton)
21 Chancellors Walk,
Clayton Campus, Monash University.
03 9905 1000


Camberwell Dental Group

Two convenient locations
Camberwell and Monash University




Our Clinicians Book Online

Dr Erik Magee BDSc (Melb)
Dr Stephen Liew BDSc (Mel), FPFA, FADI, MAICD, FICD
Dr Sue King BDSc (Melb)
Dr Lin Liang BDSc (Hons Melb)
Dr Jordan Hawkins BSc (Melb) DDS (Melb)
Dr Marjan Ardebili BDS (Manchester,UK), MFDS (RCS Ed)
Dr Rochelle Lim BDSc (JCU)
Dr Balakka Reddy BDSc (Hons Melb)
Dr Ben Douglas BSc (Melb) DDS
Mr Richard Huggins MBBS (Hons), BDSc, BSc, BSc (Hons), Grad Dip Surg Anat, MPhil, FRACDS

Camberwell Dental Group and Monash University Dental Clinic. Dentists promoting health care for life. Family orientated

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