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How to Relieve Tooth Sensitivity to Hot and Cold

By Bruce Wilderman on July 30, 2016

A woman undergoing a dental examIf you experience sudden, sharp pains when you eat hot or cold foods, you might suffer from tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity may occur in relatively healthy teeth, but sometimes it's a sign of dental damage or another oral health issue. Regardless of the cause, tooth sensitivity can impact daily life, making it painful to eat and drink. General dentistry treatments can help treat the underlying causes of tooth sensitivity, protecting oral health and improving dental comfort. If you experience tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Philadelphia, PA dentist Bruce Wilderman.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is most commonly felt when the teeth are exposed to hot or cold temperatures. Felt as sudden, sharp pains, tooth sensitivity is often caused by enamel wear, cracks in the enamel, or gum recession. Both the enamel and gums protect the inner structures of the teeth, including the nerves, from bacteria and other factors, like temperature fluctuations. When the enamel becomes worn or the gums recede, microscopic tubes within the dentin layer of the teeth become exposed, allowing external factors to reach the nerves of the teeth. 

How to Alleviate Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is sometimes a sign of dental damage and should be evaluated by a dentist, especially if sensitivity persists for more than three days. Tooth sensitivity can be an indication of a cavity or abscess and should be examined by a dentist to ensure the teeth are healthy. If tooth sensitivity is not related to a dental issue, like tooth decay or an abscess, your dentist will recommend other treatments or ways to help alleviate tooth sensitivity, such as:

  • Switch toothpaste: Sometimes tooth sensitivity is triggered by certain types of toothpastes. Toothpastes with whitening agents and tartar-control toothpastes with sodium pyrophosphate can increase tooth sensitivity.
  • Use sensitive-formula toothpaste: Specially formulated toothpastes for sensitive teeth are available and can help provide those who suffer from tooth sensitivity with relief. Sensitive formula toothpastes need to be used on a regular basis before sensitivity is alleviated.
  • Brush gently: Brushing too aggressively, using a hard-bristled toothbrush, overly abrasive toothpaste, or a heavy hand can wear the enamel and cause tooth sensitivity. Using light pressure and a soft-bristled toothbrush can help protect the enamel and prevent tooth sensitivity.
  • Limit acidic foods and drinks: Acidic foods and drinks, like soft drinks, citrus fruits, coffee, and tomato sauce, can increase dental sensitivity. Instead, limit or avoid acidic foods and drinks to protect the enamel.
  • Keep temperatures lukewarm: Avoid extremely hot or extremely cold foods and drinks, which can trigger tooth sensitivity. Instead, stick to lukewarm or room-temperature foods and drinks.

Discover Your Treatment Options

Tooth sensitivity should not be ignored because it may be an indication of tooth decay, an abscess, or dental fracture. If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Wilderman to learn about your treatment options.

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