What Causes Hot and Cold Tooth Sensitivity

Apr 6, 2017 @ 11:00 AM — by Byron Wall

A woman with a toothacheMany patients who visit our Albuquerque restorative dentistry center complain of dental pain and tooth sensitivity. We always take these matters seriously since this could be the sign of a more serious dental wellness issue.

Tooth sensitivity can be triggered by a number of things, including the exposure to hot and cold temperatures. To understand issues with tooth sensitivity, it may be helpful to first cover the basic anatomy of a tooth.

The Anatomy of a Tooth

Every tooth basically has three layers:

  • Enamel – The topmost layer of a tooth is comprised of enamel, which is one of the hardest substances in the entire human body.

  • Dentin – The underlying layer of a tooth is made of dentin, a porous substance. The pores in the dentin are known as dentinal tubules.

  • The Pulp Chamber – Inside of every tooth is a chamber that is filled with a substance known as dental pulp. The dental pulp is made up of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.

The Reason for Temperature Sensitivity

Temperature sensitivity is most often related to the wearing away of enamel and/or the exposure of dentin. Since the dentin is porous, it is more sensitive to temperature, sending those signals to the nerves within the tooth.

There are many different ways that hot and cold temperatures can lead to sensations of sensitivity.

Tooth Decay and Fractures

When you have a bad cavity or your teeth are seriously damaged, that can expose more of the underlying layers of your tooth to hot and cold temperature. This lead to sensitivity; sometimes the sensitivity is so acute that it can be painful.

The best way to address these issues is to have dental restorations placed. These will rebuild tooth structure and protect the underlying layers of the tooth.

Problems with Your Dental Restorations

Sometimes your teeth are generally fine but the restorations are the issue. If you have a broken or poorly fit filling, inlay, onlay, or crown, this can result in pressure and temperature affecting the sensitivity of your teeth.

The ideal option for treating these problems is to have your problem dental restoration replaced with a new one.

Gum Recession and Exposed Tooth Roots

The root structure of your teeth is covered up by your gumline and lead down into the jawbone. When you suffer from gum recession, the roots become exposed. Since the roots have less enamel in place than the crown of the tooth (the top portion), they are more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.

The ideal way to treat these problems is to undergo gum grafting surgery, a soft tissue grafting procedure that helps rebuild the gumline.

Side Effects from Teeth Whitening

During teeth whitening treatment, bleaching agents will penetrate the tooth's enamel layer, making the dentinal tubules more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures in the process.

Thankfully the tooth sensitivity caused by teeth whitening is only a temporary side effect. The best way to address this is by avoiding hot and cold foods/beverages for a day or so after your teeth whitening procedure.

Contact Cosmetic Dentistry of New Mexico

For more information about treating tooth sensitivity and how we can help you smile with renewed confidence, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at Cosmetic Dentistry of New Mexico is here to help you achieve total wellness.

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