Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures is a common complaint, but what causes it and can it be alleviated? There are many potential causes of tooth sensitivity, including oral health issues. General dentistry treatments can help detect the underlying causes of tooth sensitivity and provide relief from dental pain. To discover what's causing your tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of our Ridgewood, NJ dentists at Ridgewood Dental Associates.
Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity to Hot and Cold
For some people, eating hot or cold foods, or even breathing in cold air, can cause sharp, sudden dental pain. This type of tooth sensitivity has many possible causes. In order to determine the underlying cause, a thorough dental exam should be performed so that the appropriate treatment may be administered. Some possible causes of tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures include:
- Enamel erosion: Enamel erosion is a wearing away of the enamel, the protective outer layer of the teeth. As the enamel wears away, the inner dentin layer will become exposed. Enamel erosion can develop over time as a result of exposure to acids in foods and drinks or aggressively brushing the teeth.
- Dental fracture: Dental fractures can allow hot and cold substances to reach the inner root canal of a damaged tooth, where the dental nerve is located. The dental nerve regulates tooth sensitivity, causing pain when exposed to fluctuations between hot and cold temperatures.
- Gum recession: Gum recession is most often caused by gum disease, but may also be caused by brushing the teeth too hard. Gum recession exposes the structures usually protected beneath the gum line to outside factors, like acids, bacteria, and temperature fluctuations, sometimes resulting in tooth sensitivity.
- Overuse of teeth whitening treatment: Whitening treatments are a great way to enhance the smile, but overusing them can cause tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. This is because whitening treatments remove minerals from the enamel, exposing pores within the teeth. These pores allow temperature changes to reach the dental nerve, causing temporary tooth sensitivity.
How to Alleviate Tooth Sensitivity
Treating tooth sensitivity begins with determining the underlying cause of dental pain. Once a dental examination is performed, the proper treatment can be determined and may include such treatments as:
- Restorative dentistry: Restorative dentistry treatments may be necessary to repair enamel damage or dental fractures.
- Gum surgery: Gum surgery, such as a gum tissue graft, may be necessary to treat gum recession and reduce tooth sensitivity.
- Limit whitening treatment: Limiting whitening treatment, or seeking professional treatment, can help reduce tooth sensitivity caused by overuse of teeth whitening treatment.
- Use a sensitive formula toothpaste: Using a sensitive formula toothpaste can help desensitize the teeth, providing relief to tooth sensitivity.
- Don't brush too aggressively: Brushing with too much pressure or using hard-bristled brushes can wear the enamel. Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and use light, even pressure when brushing to avoid damaging the enamel.
Seek Relief from Tooth Sensitivity
To find out your options for relieving tooth sensitivity, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with our team at Ridgewood Dental Associates.