a woman holding her cheek while eating ice cream because she has jaw sensitivity to cold

Do you often experience discomfort or pain when trying to enjoy your favorite foods or drinks? If you regularly feel a jolt of pain when drinking your coffee in the morning or trying to enjoy some ice cream, you probably have some degree of jaw sensitivity. This issue can be more than a minor inconvenience; it can be a consistent unpleasant disruption to your day. There are many causes of sensitivity to hot and cold and various methods of addressing this issue, so read on to learn the basics of this uncomfortable oral condition.

Why Are My Teeth Sensitive to Hot and Cold?

There are a number of reasons why you may be experiencing sensitivity and discomfort when eating or drinking something hot or cold. One of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity is exposure of the root structure of the teeth. Under the gum tissue lies hundreds of tiny tubules called dentin, which is connected to nerve endings. The roots of the teeth are normally protected by gum tissue, as are these nerve endings, but when the tubules are exposed (often as a result of gum recession or enamel erosion), hypersensitivity to hot and cold can become an issue.

In order to understand tooth sensitivity, it is important to grasp what causes the exposure of a tooth’s root structure. Gum recession, which is often a side effect of gum disease or gingivitis, causes the gum tissue to lower, which exposes the roots of the teeth. Enamel erosion is another cause of the exposure of these roots, and it can come about easier than you might think. Enamel can wear away due to brushing too hard or regularly drinking beverages with a high acid level, such as soda, coffee, and energy drinks. The nerves of the teeth can also be exposed from consistent grinding of the teeth, often because of stress.

What Can I Do To Reduce Sensitivity?

Sensitivity to hot and cold can become an issue that is very disruptive to your day, so it is important that you speak to your dentist about treatment options. There are a number of remedies that you can try, and your dentist will be able to determine which will be most effective for your specific case.

Home Remedies to Address Tooth Sensitivity

Upon visiting your dentist, you will find that many of the techniques to address sensitivity to hot and cold can be done in your own home. To address the pain, try avoiding acidic foods, and when eating cold foods (such as ice cream) avoid biting directly into them. You can also make changes to address the causes of your tooth sensitivity by switching up your tooth-brushing routine. Start using a soft-bristled toothbrush, which can help reduce gum irritation. Switching to a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth is also a step in the right direction. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth (which contains fluoride) helps to build up the tooth enamel and cover exposed dentinal tubules. You can even rub the toothpaste directly onto your gums after brushing your teeth. If you choose desensitizing toothpaste, be sure to use it regularly so that it has a chance to work.

Dental Procedures to Address Tooth Sensitivity

If home remedies don’t help ease your hot and cold sensitivity, there are dental procedure options as well. If the discomfort stems from a specific tooth, a crown or inlay can address the underlying flaw or decay that is causing the issue. Your dentist may also apply fluoride gel, which helps strengthen your tooth enamel. Sensitivity can also come from the gums (especially in cases of gum recession), so a gum graft is another option for treatment. This procedure involves attaching gum tissue from another part of the mouth to the exposed area, which protects and covers the exposed and sensitive root. If your sensitivity is severe, your dentist may suggest a root canal, but this treatment is usually only utilized if no other treatment options have been beneficial.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, our specialists at St. Luke’s OMS would be happy to help you. We will work with you to determine the underlying cause of your tooth sensitivity and choose a treatment plan to help bring you relief. For more information about tooth sensitivity to hot and cold and the services we provide, contact us today.