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What’s it Mean When Hot and Cold Things Make My Teeth Hurt?

added on: January 21, 2015

tooth sensitivityPerhaps it’s ice cream or a breath of crisp air, or maybe it’s a cup of hot tea or a cozy bowl of soup. No matter what it is, hot and cold tooth sensitivity is a common ailment experienced by many people. At my dental office in St. Joseph, we’d like to answer some of the questions we get asked regarding tooth sensitivity to both hot and cold foods and drinks.

“Why are my teeth sensitive?”

Tooth sensitivity is caused when the outside of teeth, or the hard enamel, wears down or gums recede and the tiny tubes in the tooth dentin become exposed. Each of those tiny tubes contains a lot of nerve endings, and when they’re left open, it can hurt when you put hot or cold things in your mouth. A lot.

“What causes the enamel to wear away?”

Most often, tooth enamel wears away due to eating of too many acidic foods or drinks, excessive acid reflux, brushing too hard, or by clenching or grinding.

“How can I ease the pain?”

Choosing the right toothpaste and toothbrush can go a long way in easing tooth sensitivity. When looking for a toothbrush, select one that has soft bristles and brush gently when using it. If your bristles are pointing in several directions, you’re probably brushing too hard. For a toothpaste choice, avoid anything that contains sodium pyrophosphate as that can contribute to sensitivity. Many whitening toothpastes and tartar-control pastes have this ingredient. Instead, select a desensitizing paste. Finally, mind your food choices. Having water instead of acidic drinks like soda or juices, and even avoiding acidic foods like certain tomato- or olive-based pasta sauces can help.

“What will my dentist do to help?

There are multiple treatment options that may be helpful in reducing tooth sensitivity including:

  • Sealants or other desensitizing agents
  • Bonding
  • Root canals

Your dentist in St. Joseph will determine the most appropriate option for you following an in depth discussion about your pain, your habits, and the treatments available.

If you’re still experiencing sensitivity related pain, come to my St. Joseph dental office. We’ll discuss what could be contributing to it and work with you to provide the best way to ease it.

Welcoming patients from St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, South Bend, and nearby communities.


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