Brookfield Family Dentistry: Thomas Tang, DDS

Hot and Cold: How Temperature Causes Tooth Sensitivity

By Dr.Thomas Tang on September 30, 2016

A woman with a major toothacheHere at Brookfield Family Dentistry, we want to make sure patients can smile with renewed health and total wellness. If their smile looks great and their teeth and gums are healthy, we know that our patients are happy. That's why we always take a comprehensive and holistic approach to general dentistry. We consider aspects of dental health and keep an eye out for warning signs of more serious issues.

Tooth sensitivity is one such warning sign of a problem. What many patents learn is that hot and cold substances can trigger cases of tooth sensitivity. Let's take a moment to go over why this is the case.

About Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity refers to a heightened level of feeling when a person bites or chews, particularly when it comes to foods and beverages that are hot or cold in temperature. When patients with serious tooth sensitivity have a hot or cold item of some kind, it can lead to serious discomfort.

Why Hot and Cold Temperatures Lead to Sensitivity

When it comes to the causes of hot/cold tooth sensitivity, there are a few common issues:

  • Exposed Tooth Roots – The tooth root is the portion of the tooth that is covered by the gumline. When more of a tooth root is exposed, a tooth tends to be more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.

  • Exposed Inner Tooth Structure – Related to the above, damage and injury to a tooth means that hot and cold temperatures are able to reach the dentin without as much of a protective buffer, resulting in acute sensitivity.

  • Hypersensitive Dentinal Tubules – Beneath the topmost enamel layer of the teeth is a substance known as dentin. This dentin layer of the teeth contains small pores known as dentinal tubules, which lead into the pulp chamber and to the nerves of the dental pulp. When the tubules are stimulated, this can make them especially aware of heat and cold, leading to increased sensitivity.

Common Causes of Hot/Cold Tooth Sensitivity

When it comes to the causes of hot/cold tooth sensitivity, there are a few common issues:

  • Gum Recession – Gum recession refers to the loss of gum tissue along the gumline, which exposed more of the root structure of the teeth.

  • Tooth Decay and Injuries – Cavities, chips, and cracks can all result in hot and cold temperatures reaching the inner structures of the teeth. This results in acute sensitivity that can be quite painful.

  • Teeth Whitening Treatment – When you undergo teeth whitening treatment, the dentinal tubules are often affected by the bleaching agent. This results in temporary teeth whitening in the days after treatment.

Tips for Addressing Tooth Sensitivity

When it comes to dealing with tooth sensitivity, there are a few options to consider.

For sensitivity linked to teeth whitening treatment, it's best to avoid hot and cold foods and beverages for the first day or so after bleaching. Lukewarm and room temperature is best. The same goes for rinsing and mouthwash: aim for room temperature to avoid serious discomfort.

When tooth damage and gum recession are the cause of your tooth sensitivity, the best option to consider is restorative care. This includes the use of dental restorations such as fillings and crowns, as well as gum grafting procedures to rebuild the gumline.

The ideal treatment option for you and your needs can be discussed in greater detail during your visit to the practice.

Contact Brookfield Family Dentistry

For more information about dealing with toothaches and tooth sensitivity, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at Brookfield Family Dentistry will help you have a healthy smile free from discomfort and dental pain.

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Brookfield Office

17185 W North Ave
Brookfield, WI 53005

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