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Why Are My Teeth Sensitive to Cold?

There are many reasons why your teeth may be sensitive to the cold. Learn the top reasons why.

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When we take a sip of a cold beverage or enjoy a bite of our summer ice cream, many of us are prone to experience an intense, stinging sensation on our teeth. While this is common, there is that lingering question of why exactly those powerful sensations occur. Housed with nerves, our tooth’s enamel is our mouth’s protective system. When those nerves are stimulated with our ice cream or iced drinks, it sends a signal to the brain that a rapid temperature change has occurred. However, below you’ll find some other reasons why someone may be particularly prone to those nerve sensitivities.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Teeth sensitivity can occur due to a variety of factors. Before a dentist can help understand an individual’s cold sensitivity, all of the common causes must first be assessed.

Broken tooth. Broken upper incisor in a man mouth. Man shows oral cavity to the dentist. Treatment of a broken tooth.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues responsible for keeping our teeth held together. Plaque buildup occurs in gum disease with a film of bacteria caused by poor dental hygiene. This buildup of plaque can lead to increased sensitivity to the cold in our teeth. Some signs of gum disease include:

  • Bleeding Gums
  • Bad Breath
  • Shrinking Gums

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can occur due to untreated cavities, or small pieces of decaying teeth. The decaying parts of our teeth can lead to extra temperature change sensitivity as the nerves’ strength decreases over time. Some signs of tooth decay include:

  • Spots Appearing on Teeth
  • Pain in Teeth
  • Holes in Teeth

Teeth Grinding

Another poor oral habit that can lead to cold sensitivity is grinding your teeth. The bruxism, or loss of tooth enamel can chip away at teeth leaving them vulnerable to temperature changes. If you think your teeth being sensitive to the cold is outside the average nerve sensations our teeth and gums have, consult with a dental professional to be certain there aren’t any other underlying causes.


Odontoblasts are a part of the inner portion of the tooth. They sit between the crown and the dentin of your tooth and their primary purpose is to create more dentin. However, they are also responsible for tooth sensitivity and may occasionally cause hypersensitivity.

Worn Enamel

Over time, our enamel can become worn from acidic foods and beverages. Because the enamel is the outer layer of the tooth and is designed to protect the more sensitive inner layers of the tooth, if it’s worn away, tooth sensitivity and pain may result.

A Damaged Tooth

A previously damaged tooth can also make someone increasingly sensitive to the cold. Untreated damage, especially, can continue to become more sensitive if proper dental care and healing are administered.

A Worn Filling

If you’ve previously had a cavity filled, that filling may become loose or worn. These fillings can cause heightened sensitivity and aggravate your previously damaged tooth even further.

How to Treat Tooth Sensitivity

While all of us have some level of tooth sensitivity to temperature changes, if you find yourself having frequent pain or sensitivity it’s important to determine the underlying cause and seek either over-the-counter or professional dental treatment.

Broken tooth. Broken upper incisor in a man mouth. Man shows oral cavity to the dentist. Treatment of a broken tooth.

Use Special Toothpaste

Sometimes the solution to your tooth pain can be as simple as buying a new toothpaste. Some toothpaste contains ingredients like potassium nitrate to help restore our tooth’s enamel over time. A toothpaste with clove oil may also help alleviate tooth sensitivity.

Treat the Condition Causing the Sensitivity

Treating the underlying condition causing your cold sensitivity can also help alleviate those aggravating symptoms over time. If you have gum disease or significant tooth decay, getting to the root cause and finding treatment with tools such as a saltwater rinse or tooth bonding can help restore the nerves of the teeth.

Use Fluoride to Strengthen Your Enamel

Fluoride is also a powerful dental tool. It can help rebuild the healthy minerals needed for strong teeth and surrounding enamel. If teeth are decaying, it can put a stop to the decay and slowly repair the damage from the acids.

Get a Root Canal

If over-the-counter treatment hasn’t helped rebuild your enamel, a root canal may be necessary to put a stop to extreme tooth sensitivity. A root canal can remove the pain completely by treating the underlying infection. A dental professional can help you determine if a root canal procedure is necessary.

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Dr. Standish has been serving Clay County patients at Eagle Harbor Dental for over 40 years. His daughters Dr. Kelly & Dr. Erin joined the practice and they’ve been creating beautiful smiles as a family ever since. With extensive educations and memberships, our dentists are the best that Fleming Island has to offer.


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