Why Hot and Cold Temperatures Cause Tooth Sensitivity

Nov 15, 2016 @ 01:00 PM — by belldental

A woman with a toothacheThe people of Lake Jackson know that they can come to our practice for advanced restorative dentistry treatments as well as cosmetic dental procedures. We always aim to improve the health and the appearance of a patient's smile.

Many patients who come to our practice complain of tooth sensitivity and dental pain caused by hot and cold temperatures. We'd like to explore this issue in more detail, explaining why this happens and how it can be treated.

About Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity refers to instances of pain and acute discomfort of the teeth. This may affect one tooth or multiple teeth. There are many difference reasons why tooth sensitivity may occur, and it may be temporary or chronic.

The best way to understand tooth sensitivity as a whole is to consider the anatomy of the tooth, which we'd like to do right now.

The Anatomy of a Tooth

First, let's consider the tooth itself in relation to the gumline. The top portion of the tooth above the gumline is known as the crown. Beneath the gumline is the root structure of the tooth, which anchors the tooth into place in the jawbone.

Now for the layers of the tooth. The topmost layer of a tooth is comprised of enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. Beneath the enamel is a porous material known as dentin. In the center of the tooth is a hollow chamber full of soft tissue known as dental pulp. The dental pulp is comprised of blood vessels, nerves, and soft tissue, all of which were necessary for the initial formation of the tooth.

Common Causes of Hot/Cold Tooth Sensitivity

In many cases, tooth sensitivity is caused when something affects the porous dentin layer of the tooth. Hot and cold substances are known to cause serious sensitivity for many patients just given how attuned the nerves in a tooth can be to shifts or fluctuations in temperature.

Some of the most common causes of hot/cold tooth sensitivity include:

  • Teeth Whitening Treatments – When dental bleaching agents penetrate the tooth enamel, it can lead the pores in the dentin (dentinal tubules) to be more temporarily sensitive.
  • Tooth Decay and Dental Damage – Any kind of breach in the enamel of your teeth can expose dentin to pressure and increased temperature, resulting in heightened hot/cold sensitivity.
  • Gum Recession – Gum recession exposes more of the root structure of a tooth. There is less enamel in the tooth root since it's meant to be covered by the gumline, which is why the roots are more sensitive.

Dealing with Temporary Tooth Sensitivity

For temporary tooth sensitivity caused by teeth whitening, the best option is to avoid foods and beverages that are hot or cold in temperature. Aim for room temperature or lukewarm food items whenever possible. The tooth sensitivity should pass after a few days.

Treatments for Severe Tooth Sensitivity

For major cases of tooth sensitivity that are persistent or chronic, the best option is to visit a dentist for restorative care. Dental restorations can help repair damaged teeth or rebuild tooth enamel. For gum recession, grafting techniques can help rebuild the gumline and protect exposed tooth roots.

During the consultation process, we can go over all of your treatment options in much greater detail.

Contact Bell Dental

To learn more about treating tooth sensitivity and improving your dental health, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at Bell Dental is here to help you smile with renewed confidence.

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