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Treating Tooth Sensitivity to Hot and Cold

Craig Goldin DDS Oct 13, 2016

A woman holding her hand to her face in painWhen exposure to hot and cold foods or drinks causes tooth sensitivity, it could mean there's an underlying dental problem. Although not all tooth sensitivity is caused by dental damage, it's important to determine the cause of the discomfort in order to ensure good dental health and provide treatment if necessary. Restorative dentistry treatments are available to treat underlying dental damage and help alleviate tooth sensitivity for improved oral health. To find out which treatments can help relieve your tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, schedule a consultation with Troy, MI dentists Craig and Marcy Goldin.

The Causes of Tooth Sensitivity to Hot and Cold

Exposure to hot and cold foods and drinks, and breathing in cold air, can cause some patients to experience sudden, sharp pain in their teeth. This tooth sensitivity can be an indication of an oral health problem and should be evaluated to protect the smile.

  • Fractured or cracked enamel: The enamel is the outer layer of the teeth. It protects the internal structures of the teeth, including the dentin layer and nerves, from decay and damage. When the enamel becomes fractured or cracked, hot and cold temperatures may be able to penetrate the enamel and reach the nerves of the teeth, causing pain and discomfort. 
  • Enamel erosion: Brushing with too much pressure, grinding the teeth, or regular exposure to acidic foods and drinks can wear down the enamel. Over time, enamel erosion can begin to expose the inner dentin layer of the teeth. When this happens, patients may experience pain or sensitivity when the teeth are exposed to hot and cold temperatures.
  • Gum recession: The gums protect the delicate structures of the teeth, like the tooth roots, from decay and damage. When gum recession occurs, the gums begin to pull back, exposing vulnerable areas of the teeth and increasing the risk of sensitivity to hot and cold.
  • Tooth decay: Tooth decay is a form of erosion caused by a build-up of plaque and bacteria. As acids from the bacteria found in plaque erode the enamel, a cavity may form. Cavities can cause tooth sensitivity not just to hot and cold, but also to sugary foods and the pressure of biting down. 
  • Overusing whitening products: One possible cause of tooth sensitivity that can occur in healthy teeth is the overuse of whitening products. Whitening products often remove minerals from the enamel, exposing microscopic pores within the teeth. These pores lead to dental nerves, so when whitening products are used regularly, these pores may stay open and cause increased tooth sensitivity.

Alleviating Tooth Sensitivity

Treating tooth sensitivity begins with undergoing a dental examination to determine a cause. Once the cause is found, treatment can be determined. Treatments may include:

  • Tooth-colored dental fillings for tooth decay
  • Porcelain crowns for the treatment of tooth decay or dental fractures
  • Dental bonding for mild fractures or mild enamel erosion
  • Gum grafting to treat gum recession
  • Switching to a sensitive formula toothpaste

Discover Your Treatment Options

For more information about alleviating tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, or to discover your treatment options, we welcome you to schedule a consultation at the Cosmetic Dentistry Institute.

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