Tag Archives: tooth sensitivity

Tooth Sensitivity: The Hot and Cold Truth

Let’s say you are craving your favorite ice cream or a piping hot slice of pizza. The thought made your mouth water, and you had to have it. So you go to the store or the pizzeria, buy your food, and bring it home. You sit down and get ready to enjoy your food. You take one bite and…OUCH!!!

That first bite triggered a sharp pain in one of your teeth, and now your favorite food becomes your mouth’s worse enemy. You just learned the hard way that you may have tooth sensitivity.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

Before getting into what tooth sensitivity is, let’s start with an overview of the anatomy of your teeth. Healthy teeth have a layer of enamel protecting the crown of the tooth – the portion of the tooth above the gum line. The layer just under the gum line, or cementum, protects the tooth root. Then there is the dentin, which is the layer under both the cementum and enamel. 

Tooth sensitivity is often a result of the wearing away of your tooth’s enamel. As enamel wears down, the dentin’s tubules, or microscopic canals, are exposed and can allow hot and cold, acidic, or sticky foods to reach the nerves, creating hypersensitivity.

What Can I Do About My Tooth Sensitivity?

According to the American Association of Endodontists, some symptoms and remedies include:

  • Momentary sensitivity to hot or cold foods – Fleeting issues might not signal a serious issue unless sensitivity remains for an extended period of time. Try using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Brush with a soft/extra-soft toothbrush up and down. Brushing side to side can wear away exposed root surfaces.
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods after dental treatment – Recent dental work could possibly inflame the pulp inside the tooth, causing temporary symptoms. Wait two to four weeks and have your dentist or endodontist check for more serious problems if it persists.
  • Sharp pain when biting down on food – Pain may be caused by decay, a loose filling, a crack in the tooth, or possible damage to the pulp tissue. Speak to your dentist right away about any severe pain.
  • Lingering pain, typically lasting more than 30 seconds, after eating hot or cold foods – Pulp may have irreversibly been damaged by deep decay or physical trauma. See your dentist or endodontist.
  • Constant and severe pain and pressure, swelling of gums, and sensitivity to touch – The tooth may be abscessed and causing infection to the surrounding tissue and bone. Take over-the-counter (OTC) medications and schedule an appointment to see your endodontist for evaluation and treatment.
  • Dull ache and pressure in upper teeth and jaw – Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can cause this. A sinus headache may cause this as well. Consult your dentist for bruxism. Try OTC medication for a sinus headache and see your endodontist or physician if the pain worsens.

If you have any issues stemming from tooth sensitivity, call us to schedule an appointment to get to the “root” of the problem.