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Too Hot, Too Cold, Just Right: Tooth Sensitivity from Temperature

Danny O'Keefe D.D.S. Aug 26, 2016

A woman with a toothacheThe people of Jackson know that we offer some of the finest restorative dentistry treatments for the teeth and gums. Whether dealing with dental pain or gum disease, we have numerous solutions for these issues.

We've had a number of patients come to the practice complaining of tooth sensitivity. Let's take a moment to go over the basics of these matters.

Understanding the Anatomy of a Tooth

To better understand the nature of tooth sensitivity, it helps to go over some of the basics of tooth anatomy.

The topmost layer of a tooth is covered in a layer of enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. Even though it's durable, it doesn't mean it can't be worn down and broken.

Beneath the enamel layer of a tooth is a substance called dentin. This is a porous material, with the small holes in the dentin referred to as dentinal tubules. These tiny holes in the dentin lead into the central portion of the tooth and help people sense heat, cold, and pressure on a tooth.

In the middle of a tooth is a hollow section known as the pulp chamber. The pulp chamber contains a substance known as dental pulp, which is comprised of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. This dental pulp leads down into the roots of the teeth, which are nested in the jawbone and gums.

Why Hot and Cold Substances Cause Tooth Sensitivity

Hot and cold substances often trigger sensations of tooth sensitivity. The primary reason for this is the exposure of more heat or coolness than usual to the dentinal tubules. This leads to feelings of pain or discomfort.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

The most common causes of tooth sensitivity include:

  • Tooth Decay or Injury – When you suffer from serious cavities, chips, or cracks in your teeth, hot and cold substances can come into closer contact with the dentin and dentinal tubules.

  • Gum Recession/Root Exposure – When you lose tissue along the gumline, you expose a part of your teeth without as much enamel present. As a result, that portion of the tooth is more sensitive to hot and col temperatures.

  • Teeth Whitening Treatments – During teeth whitening treatment, a bleaching agent penetrates past the tooth enamel, stimulating the dentinal tubules in the process. For a few days after, you may be more acutely aware of hot and cold.

Dealing with Temporary Tooth Sensitivity

If you suffer from temporary tooth sensitivity linked to teeth whitening, the best option is to eat and drink items that are lukewarm or room temperature. This minimizes discomfort and helps reduce sudden rushes of sensitivity. You should notice major improvements in tooth sensitivity as the days pass.

Treatments for Major Tooth Sensitivity

For more serious cases of tooth sensitivity, it's best to meet with you dentist. Restorations can be used to address tooth decay and tooth structure damage. In the case of gum recession and exposed roots, gum grafting may be considered to help rebuild the gumline. We will be more than happy to go over all of these options in greater detail during your consultation.

Learn More About Toothaches and Sensitivity

For more information about tooth sensitivity and how it can be treated effectively, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at our practice will work closely with you to ensure optimal dental health.

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