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Tooth Sensitive To Cold?: What You Should Know

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Sensitive teeth to cold is a very common problem. According to the National Health Portal, if a person feels mild to severe discomfort or pain on consuming hot, cold, or sweet food and drinks or breathing in cold air, it indicates sensitive teeth. Studies showed that in most populations, 10-30% of the general population suffer from dentin hypersensitivity. It is common in people between the ages of 20 - 40 years.

The good news is that these types of conditions are easily reversible, and sufferers now have more choices to help alleviate their sensitive teeth. Although many find relief from a special toothpaste, occasionally dental treatment is necessary.

Causes of Sensitive Teeth

According to the National Health Portal, the tooth has an outer enamel layer that protects the dentin underneath. If dentin loses its protective covering of enamel its tubules get exposed and start allowing heat, cold or acidic foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the pulp of the tooth and the tooth becomes sensitive. Its reasons include Toothbrush abrasion, Dental erosion, Gum disease, Tooth grinding, A cracked tooth or filling, Tooth bleaching.

Most cold sensitivity occurs at or near the neck of the tooth or gumline. Often the part of the tooth that becomes sensitive is the dentin that is exposed due to the wearing of the outer protective layers of enamel and cementum. However, sensitivity could also result from a cavity, a lost or loose filling, or an exposed root surface. The majority of sufferers fall into the latter category.

How Roots Become Exposed

According to the Indian Dental Association, Tooth Enamel is the hardest of the parts of the tooth and also the hardest of all the tissues of human body. Tooth enamel is a protective tooth structure that covers the exposed part of a tooth, the crown. This enamel surface covers the part of the tooth above the gumline; however, the root, which doesn't have this hard protective enamel layer, can become exposed for various reasons. The root is covered by cementum, and beneath this layer, dentin. It is the microscopic dentinal tubules that transmit the temperatures of the foods that we eat straight to the nerve cells of the tooth. Suddenly, you can have teeth sensitive to cold.

According to the American Dental Association, If you brush your teeth incorrectly or brush too aggressively, you may injure your gums and expose tooth roots.

Types of Treatment

The best treatment will depend on the severity of your sensitivity, as well as other elements. Your dentist or dental hygienist will evaluate your condition and suggest treatment options that are right for you. Whether they're for use at home or in the dental chair, these treatments could include one or a combination of the following:

  • Toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth
  • In-office or home fluoride treatments
  • Dietary changes
  • Crowns or bonded fillings to cover the exposed area
  • Gum grafting to cover the receding gum
  • Root canal treatment

Fluoride is another tool to alleviate sensitive teeth. It can be dispensed in various ways, from a prescription-strength paste or varnish to OTC rinses. Fluoride works by strengthening the enamel and dentin, thus reducing sensitivity.

These less invasive fluoride treatments should be combined with a good home care regimen that includes proper toothbrushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Proper nutrition is important too, because a diet that frequently includes acidic foods and drinks can contribute to or aggravate sensitivity. More involved treatment includes dental work that restores and protects the exposed root or lost tooth structure. Your dentist will recommend the best treatment, and it may include referrals to other dental specialists.

Sensitive teeth to cold and other types of food are a very common problem. It can cause a subsequent fear of dental treatment and improper dietary choices, allowing many to suffer unnecessarily. Fortunately, with new research, prescriptions and OTC remedies, your sensitivity could be instantly alleviated.

The first step is to schedule an appointment with your dental professional, who has the knowledge and the tools to assess and treat your individual needs. Diminishing or eliminating sensitive teeth will have a positive effect on your oral and overall health.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.