During a hot July in Florida, there’s nothing better than a stop for an ice cream cone or cold watermelon. But your teeth could disagree. Tooth sensitivity to cold is a common problem — 57 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 50 have some degree of cold sensitivity in their teeth.
What’s behind this sensitivity?
Causes of Sensitive Teeth
There are a variety of reasons a tooth or teeth can become sensitive to cold. Most of this kind of sensitivity occurs at or near the neck of the tooth or at the gumline. This happens because the dentin, the inner portion of the tooth, becomes exposed due to wear on the outer enamel. Also, it can be due to an exposed root surface (below the gumline), a cavity, or a loose filling. Most tooth sensitivity comes from an exposed root.
Why Do Tooth Roots Become Exposed?
The crown of the tooth is the part you can see above the gumline. The tooth crown is covered by enamel. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, so it provides great protection. But the roots don’t have enamel. They are covered by cementum, and beneath it, the dentin.
These factors can lead to a root being exposed:
- Orthodontic treatments
- Clenching or grinding the teeth
- Erosion due to acid
- Improper toothbrushing
How Can We Help with Tooth Sensitivity?
- Using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth
- In-office or home fluoride treatments — fluoride strengthens the enamel and the dentin, reducing sensitivity
- Dietary changes — reducing acidic foods and drinks usually lessens sensitivity
- Crowns or bonded fillings to cover the exposed root area
- Gum grafting to cover the receding gums
- Root canal
Receding gums can be a sign of gingivitis and possible gum disease. Brushing too hard or with a toothbrush with firmer bristles can also make the gums recede, exposing the roots. Our pinhole gum treatment can bring receding gums back down to cover more of the teeth.