Winter may be upon us, and it’s pretty easy to beat the cold by adding on an extra layer or two of clothing. However, if your teeth are sensitive to the cold, you may want to think twice about having that snowball fight! Even one sip of an cool drink or bite of a cold dessert can send shockwaves through your body, making you much more uncomfortable than the temperature outside. Unfortunately about 40 million adults in the United States experience tooth sensitivity, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). The good news is that tooth sensitivity can be easily managed!
Why are my teeth sensitive to the cold?
Most cold sensitivity occurs at or near the neck of the tooth or gum line. Often the part of the tooth that becomes sensitive is the dentin that’s exposed due to the wearing of the outer protective layers of enamel and cementum.
The crowns of our teeth are covered by enamel which is the hardest substance in the human body. Under the gum line, a layer called cementum protects the tooth’s root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin. Dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals). When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum, these tubules allow cold foods and beverages to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. When the root is exposed and these nerves are struck it strikes a cringe-worthy shiver throughout the body.
What can I do about my sensitive teeth?
The great news about cold sensitivity, is that there are ways to treat it over the counter. Here are five easy things to try:
- Change your toothbrush! Try a softer bristled brush and while you’re being kinder to yourself, brush more gently.
- Avoid acidic foods. Limit foods like carbonated drinks, coffee, citrus fruits, and even yogurt.
- Wear a mouthguard. Teeth grinding can wear away tooth enamel leaving your teeth sensitive the next day. A mouthguard can help keep you from grinding.
- Switch toothpaste. Select a toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth.
- Fluoridated mouthwash – use daily.
However, you should talk to your dentist first before trying any of these tips. The last thing you want to do is start off on the wrong foot – or tooth!
What if that’s not enough?
If you try these tips and find that you’re still getting a “shock” when you sip on something cold, there are dental procedures that can be discussed with your dentist:
- Bonding, crowns or inlays. These may fix a tooth flaw or decay that is causing sensitivity.
- Fluoride gel or varnish.
- Surgical gum graft. This will protect the root and reduce sensitivity if the gum tissue has eroded from the root.
- Root canal. This is a last-resort treatment for severe tooth sensitivity that has not been helped by other methods.
If you’re experiencing teeth sensitivity issues of any kind, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. They will be able to recommend the next best step for curing or fixing the issue at hand!
Call Westermeier Martin Dental Care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.