Dental Health

Tooth sensitivity to cold: cause, symptoms, remedy & more

Tooth sensitivity manifests itself with intense, short-lasting pain, associated with the exposure of dentin response tooth sensitivity to cold, heat, and even touch. It is usually a symptom associated with processes such as:

*Dental caries *Poorly fitting restorations *Fissures *Dental trauma *Gingival recession *Loss of tooth enamel, etc.

Sometimes several of these factors can overlap. On the other hand, we can talk about risk behaviors or groups, such as people who brush their teeth excessively vigorously, who have undergone periodontal treatment, with severe malocclusions, or who have eating disorders.

For tooth sensitivity to occur, the dentin must be exposed, which implies that the dental tubules are open and therefore also have access to the nerve endings in the pulp.

Treatment begins with the elimination of factors that can attack the enamel and expose the dentin: carbonated or acidic drinks, wine, yogurt, and other foods, as well as the treatment of pathologies that imply the existence of gastroesophageal reflux. Also, use brushes appropriate to the dental health of each person, do not clean with force, and avoid the use of abrasive products for cleaning.

In addition, there are desensitizing products on the market that allow the tubules to be sealed. Among them, some toothpaste or toothpaste stand out, which are easy to apply and have proven effective. However, if the desirable results are not obtained with these products within three or four weeks, it will be necessary to visit the dentist to establish the cause of the tooth sensitivity and determine the most appropriate treatment for each case.

According to a study carried out at the University of Bristol (United Kingdom), approximately 50% of the population has or has had dental sensitivity and only 5-10% go to the dentist.

What is tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity to cold occurs when we experience intense pain in our teeth, generally after subjecting the mouth to a sudden change in temperature, as usually occurs when eating very hot or cold foods.

Dental hypersensitivity especially affects women and is one of the most common complaints among the adult population. Studies indicate that it usually appears between the ages of 18 and 40 and affects 20%-35% of adults.

This tooth sensitivity occurs due to exposure of the dentin. In turn, dentin is the tissue found under the tooth enamel. In it, there are a series of microscopic tubes that, when the enamel and cement that cover them wear away, are exposed.

This allows stimuli such as tooth sensitivity to cold or heat, as well as other external elements (for example, acidic foods) to find access to the nerve endings and cause hypersensitivity.

Normally, sensitivity presents as pain that occurs suddenly when coming into contact with the stimulus. Likewise, it can occur in a single tooth or several teeth.

What is the cause of tooth sensitivity?

In general, sensitivity in all teeth, or at least most of them, is due to the weakening of the enamel or exposure of the roots of the teeth. If the sensitivity is coming from a specific tooth, it may mean that the tooth has a crack, fracture, or cavity. Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by a treatment such as a crown or filling, or a chipped, loosened, or missing tooth reconstruction.

The most common cause why people suffer from tooth sensitivity is gum disease or receding gums, which leave the root exposed. Additionally, actions such as brushing your teeth with excessive force or eating acidic foods can weaken the enamel and cause sensitivity. Teeth grinding (bruxism) also wears down the tooth surface and enamel. Teeth whitening is another common cause of sensitivity as the whitening product can affect the dentin of the tooth and cause gum recession.

1. Tooth sensitivity to cold for cavities

When a cavity breaks through the enamel and reaches the dentin, we will feel great sensitivity to cold, hot, or acidic foods. In this case, the solution would be to perform a dental filling as soon as we notice cavities.

2. Bad tooth brushing

Poor oral hygiene or brushing your teeth too vigorously causes wear of the enamel and, therefore, facilitates the appearance of tooth sensitivity.

3. Bruxism

As you know, bruxism is the act of grinding and clenching your teeth too hard and involuntarily, which results, among other things, in a deterioration of the enamel that can be the cause of your teeth hurting.

4. Incorrect oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene can be caused by not brushing your teeth, which leads to the buildup of plaque, which in turn destroys tooth cement and enamel.

On the other hand, brushing your teeth too hard, using a brush with very hard bristles, or using an abrasive toothpaste can also cause enamel to wear away. As a consequence, dental hypersensitivity appears.

5. Fractures

As with cavities, if one of our teeth has an extensive fracture that reaches the dentin, it is also common to experience intense pain. Generally, these discomforts occur in a single tooth, in which it is fractured.

6. Diseases or disorders

In general, all those pathologies that are accompanied by acids in the mouth or vomiting, such as reflux, or eating disorders such as bulimia, generate dental erosion and, as a consequence, sensitivity in the mouth.

7. Medicines

Some treatments with aspirin or vitamin C can also cause tooth sensitivity.

8. Gingivitis

Another cause of dentin hypersensitivity is inflammation of the gums, a very common problem when you have gingivitis.

9. Broken or chipped tooth

 As in the case of cavities, when a tooth breaks and the fracture reaches the dentin, enamel sensitivity will appear. The perfect would be to treat this hassle using a crown or dental cap.

10. Worn fillings

When a tooth that has had cavities is filled, it can take place over time the filling appears worn. This takes place due to aggressive brushing or erosion triggered using especially acidic products. In these cases, the dentin is uncovered again, inflicting the sensation of touchy teeth. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a dentist overview the historical filling to operate it again.

11. Receding gums

Can be precipitated by way of aggressive brushing or periodontal sickness (periodontitis). In any of the cases, retraction leaves the root of the enamel exposed, which is very touchy and is commonly covered by using the gum. However, the answer to enamel sensitivity precipitated using receding gums will rely on every case. If it is due to aggressive brushing, a gum graft can be performed. However, if the motive is periodontitis, the first element to do is to put yourself in the fingers of a periodontist to prescribe a periodontal remedy to end the disease.

12. Worn tooth enamel can be put away due to several factors

The use of a very abrasive paste blended with very aggressive brushing The dependency on clenching or grinding your tooth (bruxism) The addiction to exerting too much pressure whilst chewing Since enamel does now not regenerate, an easy composite restoration will be necessary. Subsequently, a porcelain or composite veneer or a crown is positioned ( if the put-on is very aggressive ). In the case of bruxists, it will additionally be indispensable to manufacture a discharge splint – Michigan kind – for the affected person to use at night.

13. Tooth erosion due to acids

The ordinary consumption of very acidic meals and drinks ( citrus juices, gentle drinks ) can cause enamel erosion or decalcification, leaving the dentinal tubules free. To stop teeth sensitivity from increasing, it will be very beneficial to avoid the consumption of acidic foods. The dentist has to determine the diploma of erosion to decide if any kind of restoration has to be carried out.

14. Tooth sensitivity to cold after a dental filling

Once the cavity has been removed and the filling has been made, the filled tooth may become excessively sensitive. This is because the filling used produces a small contraction when it solidifies, which causes tension in the tooth that is reflected in the nerve. However, the hypersensitivity ceases as the days go by.

15. Tooth sensitivity to cold after teeth whitening

The products used when teeth whitening can cause teeth to become sensitive for about two weeks. The pain after this type of treatment disappears by itself since it is a temporary effect. To alleviate this sensation, the use of desensitizing products recommended by the specialist is very useful. On the contrary, if there is too much sensitivity, it is best to consult with your dentist about the use of an analgesic.

16. During orthodontic treatment

Treatment with braces or another type of orthodontics can cause tooth sensitivity due to the pressure it exerts. The braces work on the tissues that are responsible for holding the tooth to allow its movement. For this reason, you may feel generalized discomfort in your teeth that worsens during chewing. In this case, tooth sensitivity also ceases as the days go by. We must not forget that any orthodontic treatment requires a period of adaptation.

17. Tooth sensitivity to cold after prophylaxis

When a patient undergoes a professional cleaning after having accumulated a large amount of tartar, their teeth may feel sensitive in the following days. By removing the tartar accumulated around the gums, the dentin can be more exposed. However, this only lasts until the gums regain the space occupied by the bacterial plaque. Again, the sensitivity disappears completely during the first few days.

18. Tooth sensitivity to cold for dental treatments

If the patient has recently undergone periodontal surgery, teeth cleaning, or scaling and root planing, the cementum may have been partially removed and the gums may have receded slightly, causing dentin exposure. However, after a few days, the gums regain their space and the sensitivity disappears.

Likewise, tooth sensitivity to cold or heat can also be caused by orthodontic treatments with braces, because they put pressure on the teeth. However, these discomforts tend to disappear when the patient gets used to the device.

What are the symptoms of tooth sensitivity?

The pain caused by tooth sensitivity is easily recognizable and, at the same time, very unpleasant for those who experience it. We could say that its symptoms and characteristics are the following:

Intense and localized pain

Responds to an external reaction

It disappears as soon as the stimulus stops having contact with the tooth or sensitive area

If this excessive sensitivity is not temporary and persists after the cessation of the external stimulus, or is not very localized, it is advisable to go to your dentist’s office as soon as possible. This is because there would be the possibility that there is some type of oral disease and, in that case, you would have to be evaluated by a dentist so that a proper diagnosis can be made.

Symptoms of tooth sensitivity to cold

Tooth sensitivity, also known as hypersensitivity, is characterized by a brief and very sharp pain that occurs in a tooth or a certain area of ​​the mouth when the teeth come into contact with an external stimulus; that is, when eating or consuming some food.

How do I know I have this problem? The symptoms of tooth sensitivity are related to pain that appears in reaction to an external element and disappears when contact is stopped. It is mainly affected by thermal changes (very hot or cold drinks or foods), chemical stimuli (sweet or acidic substances), and friction or tactile stimuli (pressure with the fingers, during brushing, etc.).

If you feel any of these discomforts, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your dentist for a complete check-up. Although initially it is not a serious problem, if tooth sensitivity is not treated in time it can lead to the appearance of oral pathologies such as cavities or pulp inflammation.

Furthermore, you should know that if the discomfort persists after contact with the stimulus that causes the pain, it may be due to another type of dental pathology.

Treatment of tooth sensitivity

The only way to treat sensitive teeth is to diagnose their cause. Your dentist may give you an exam and take X-rays to determine the cause of your sensitivity. If you are experiencing sensitivity from a problem on the surface of your teeth, for example from consuming excessively acidic foods and drinks or using whitening products, you may be advised to gradually stop doing so.

Treatment to prevent teeth grinding may vary. Consuming high levels of caffeine can cause twitching and grinding, so your dentist may advise you to reduce your consumption of stimulants. Certain stress management techniques, such as breathing, therapy, yoga, or meditation, can help relieve physical manifestations of stress (such as teeth grinding). Wearing a mouthguard at night can help reduce the impact and protect the surface of your teeth from grinding.

To treat the symptoms of gum disease or receding gums, you first need to eliminate any infection in the gums. A deep dental cleaning, which includes scaling and root planing, gets rid of plaque and tartar buildup around the gum line. In extreme instances of infection, the dentist might also additionally prescribe antibiotics. Gum grafting is a procedure that replaces lost gum tissue, as this tissue will not regenerate naturally once it is lost.

Composite restorations in the affected area

One of the simplest and most painless treatments to treat tooth sensitivity is to apply composite to the affected area so that it protects the tooth and stops you from feeling pain. It is a simple and painless process with which you will stop experiencing discomfort.

Gum graft:

If the cause of the sensitivity is due to dental recession, gum tissue can be grafted to the affected area.

Application of fluoride in high-concentration

it is a simple and painless procedure that has helped many people in mild cases of sensitivity. It consists of going to the dental clinic and after your professional hygiene, “varnishing” each tooth with a paste that has a high concentration of fluoride, which will help remineralize your enamel, protecting the dentin from external stimuli.

Tooth sensitivity to cold with Endodontics

A root canal or endodontic treatment could also be one of the last solutions to resort to this problem if the sensitivity is persistent. It is a procedure in which the center of the tooth is reached, the nerve is removed – so that the tooth will no longer transmit pain – and it is filled with a biocompatible material. The tooth is then reconstructed in the most respectful and least invasive way possible.

What can I do to remove tooth sensitivity?

To eliminate tooth sensitivity, the dentist may choose to perform some type of treatment or recommend certain home remedies to the patient.


Closely linked to the previous point, in dental clinics we have fluoridation treatments. These are applied to the sensitive area to reduce pain and remineralize the tooth enamel.

Crowns, reconstructions, or fillings:

In the case of cavities, breaks, or cracks in the teeth, the solution will be to resort to crowns, reconstructions, or fillings, which will eliminate the sensitivity in the teeth and protect them again.

Gum graft:

If the problem is caused by a lack of gingival tissue, which can occur due to gum recession caused by aggressive brushing, the solution will be to perform a graft. This will cover the exposed tooth roots and put an end to hypersensitivity.

Non-abrasive toothpaste:

Some toothpaste can help block the discomfort caused by hypersensitivity. These toothpastes also usually contain fluoride, which helps strengthen tooth enamel.


Endodontics is another dental treatment to end tooth sensitivity. It is performed to remove the pulp of a tooth that is damaged (due to a cavity or a severe fracture, for example). In these cases, the dental pulp, which is the part that contains the nerve endings, is removed.


Finally, if no other treatment proves to be effective, the tooth can be extracted as a last solution. Since it is the least conservative solution, in our dental clinics we try to use it in very few cases and as a last option. However, in very damaged teeth it may be necessary to do so.

Blue light diode laser:

In our dental clinics, we use it on patients who experience a lot of sensitivity. For example, those who cannot tolerate cold drinks, who need to wash their mouth with warm water, or who feel discomfort simply by brushing over the surface of the tooth.

In these cases, we use a blue light diode laser. This, without the need for any type of anesthesia, is applied to the root surface of the tooth and considerably reduces hypersensitivity.


In these cases, the treatment against dental sensitivity will involve making a relief splint tailored to the patient. This way you will stop clenching or grinding your teeth, which will stop damage to your enamel.

Read more: How to choose the best baby toothpaste

Tips for tooth sensitivity to cold

As we have told you before, it is essential that the moment you feel that you suffer more or less continuously from any of the symptoms of dental sensitivity, you go to a professional dentist for a check-up. In consultation, the causes of discomfort are analyzed and you will be helped to solve them.

There are, however, some general indications that help prevent the problem from appearing and, if it is too late, allow it to at least not get worse:

Break bad habits:

Try to correct bad habits such as using wooden chopsticks or cutting with your teeth. If you have bruxism, go to the dentist to solve it. Avoid clenching your teeth or chewing too hard.

Watch what you eat:

Eliminate or restrict foods that can wear down the enamel of your teeth, such as citrus juices, vinegar dressings, soft drinks, etc. Until the sensitivity has subsided, try not to drink very cold or very hot food or drink.

Hygiene is essential:

Use dental floss whenever you can, which is very important to keep gums healthy and prevent their retraction, use special toothpaste for sensitive teeth, and do not brush too hard or aggressively. The best toothbrush with soft bristles and specific for sensitive teeth. Also try using dental products with fluoride such as mouthwash for tooth sensitivity to cold, which helps strengthen enamel.

Visit your dentist to ensure that the cause of tooth sensitivity is not an oral disease: 

it is the most relevant step to act correctly when faced with tooth sensitivity and be able to eradicate it, as well as possible much more severe ailments.

What consequences does tooth sensitivity have?

Tooth sensitivity can become a very annoying problem for those who suffer from it, as well as an impediment to leading a normal life. On the one hand, people who suffer from this problem tend to avoid the stimuli that generate it, which means they stop consuming certain foods and drinks.

However, it also has more serious health consequences. Among them, it can cause a worsening of patients’ dental hygiene. Due to pain, they spend less time brushing, which favors the appearance of oral diseases ( cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis).

When can tooth sensitivity appear?

The origin of this discomfort is that the dentin that protects each tooth loses its natural protection (enamel) and leaves the tooth more exposed to external agents. The dentin is crossed by thousands of microscopic tubes that connect the outside of the tooth with the dental pulp. When the dentin is left unprotected, the tubules allow heat, cold, or acids from food to pass through, directly affecting the pulp (known as “the nerve of the tooth”).

Many causes can cause exposure of the dentinal tubules and, with it, dental sensitivity:

*Very acidic drinks and foods cause disqualification or erosion of the tooth, especially at the level of its neck.

*Excessive chewing force  (occlusal trauma, bruxism).

*Periodontal treatment, through surgeries, which can eliminate part of the gum.

*Broken or chipped teeth.

*Worn fillings, fillings wear out due to brushing or erosion. In these cases, the dentin is exposed again, causing the sensation of sensitive teeth.

*Gum disease occurs when the gum tissue recedes.

*Placing a dental filling, the filled tooth may suffer dental sensitivity since the filling used produces a small contraction when it solidifies, causing tension in the tooth that is reflected in the nerve, causing hypersensitivity.

*General pathologies that cause an acidic oral environment, such as stomach pathologies (ulcer, hiatal hernia, etc.), psychological pathologies (bulimia, anorexia nervosa), or professional pathologies (wine tasters, bakers, etc.).

*Cavities, when a cavity passes through the enamel and reaches the dentin, it causes dental sensitivity to thermal stimuli.*Poor tooth brushing and lack of oral hygiene: Brushing your teeth with excessive force, inadequate frequency, or using toothpaste that is too abrasive can cause wear of the enamel and/or cementum, exposing the dentin.

Why does tooth enamel wear away?

The enamel of the teeth wears away with the use of them in chewing; as well as the exposure of the teeth to the acids in food or our stomach, because it is common for people who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux to end up with damaged teeth. The same thing happens to those who consume a lot of carbonated drinks. 

There are other causes of tooth enamel erosion such as excessive grinding, for example, people who suffer from bruxism, or there is not a good dental occlusion, that is, the upper and lower jaws do not fit together as they should and teeth collide or rub against each other.

What danger does dental hypersensitivity pose?

Tooth sensitivity is not a disease in itself, but rather the manifestation of an underlying problem that is damaging our teeth and gums. Therefore, it is important to make an appointment with our dentist, so that he can check us if we notice any symptoms, no matter how small. Prevention is the key to avoiding the pain and discomfort caused by tooth sensitivity and keeping your mouth in perfect condition.

How to avoid tooth sensitivity

Betting on prevention rather than cure is the best treatment, which is why we invite you to put the following tips into practice to avoid tooth sensitivity:

*Maintain good dental hygiene, use a soft-bristle brush with a paste recommended by your dentist, brush with less force and more repetitions to effectively remove dental plaque, and don’t forget to floss once a day.

*Avoid carbonated drinks and sugars. If you take them, drink water afterward to balance the acid level in your mouth.

*Don’t use your mouth as a tool (opening bags, holding keys, etc.).

*If you suffer from bruxism, you can ask your dentist about the possibility of using a relief splint.

Why do teeth suddenly become sensitive?

There are several reasons why teeth become sensitive “suddenly,” starting with understanding whether the sensitivity comes from one tooth or several. When sensitivity appears out of nowhere, the point of origin defines the cause and treatment for this type of sensation.

In addition to the above, instant sensitivity can also be caused by stress or teeth grinding. The pressure caused by sinusitis has also been linked to tooth sensitivity. Also, changes in diet, such as drinking more soda or coffee over some time, can affect tooth enamel.

Tooth sensitivity to hot

Often, your teeth feel normal until you eat or drink something hot or cold when you feel a sharp pain. Sensitivity to heat or cold is common and can occur when the enamel wears away so much that the dentin inside becomes exposed. A loose filling or crown can also create tooth sensitivity. Using a tooth sensitivity gel or other special products helps relieve this sensation.

How to whiten sensitive teeth?

Is it possible to whiten sensitive teeth? Yes, but very carefully. Whitening products may cause temporary tooth sensitivity. A gel for sensitive teeth can help relieve discomfort. While using whitening products, avoid sugary, acidic, or colored foods and drinks, as enamel is at risk. What’s more, always follow proper instructions when using any whitening product at home, and be sure not to overuse over-the-counter products. Ask your dentist at your next visit about the use of whitening products. Your dentist can prepare a custom whitening tray or recommend a whitening product that is not as abrasive and tailored to your oral hygiene.

Sensitive teeth and braces

Many people who wear braces may experience sensitivity or discomfort after the dentist has adjusted them. However, this feeling should go away after a few days. Continued pain or sensitivity while wearing your braces may be a sign that you are not brushing your teeth properly. Braces can cause wear to the enamel or gum line if you don’t brush carefully around the brackets, particularly the back molars. Other signs that you aren’t brushing properly include bad breath, bleeding gums, or an unexplained toothache. Consult your orthodontist if you develop sensitivity or other symptoms that persist after a few days.


Who has not ever noticed sensitivity with ice cream, or coffee…? What about brushing your teeth with a toothbrush or floss? If so, you may have sensitive teeth. 

Say that, in healthy teeth, the enamel is the superficial layer of the tooth and is the layer that protects it, when this is lost, the dentin tubules (which is the next layer), allow heat, cold, acidic foods or sticky particles reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin is also exposed when the gum is removed due to gum disease or poor brushing technique. 

After periodontal treatment: 

In patients who have gum inflammation and/or bone loss (pyorrhea), we need to eliminate the tartar and bacteria that are causing this infection.

When we perform deep sanitation and disinfection of the teeth (scaling/curettage), we eliminate the tartar accumulated on the surface of the teeth and under the gum. This tartar that was covering the teeth was also isolating them from thermal changes, which is why it is common that after cleaning the teeth thoroughly the patient experiences more sensitivity. 

When there is gum recreation:

There are patients who, for different reasons: aggressive brushing, thin gums, altered tooth contacts, have lower gums, and leave the root of the tooth exposed. As the root of the tooth is more porous than the enamel, it transmits these temperature changes more.

After teeth whitening:

The whitening gel applied to lighten the tone of the teeth may cause a temporary increase in sensitivity that disappears after the whitening is completed.

It is very useful to use these desensitizing products before whitening to avoid that localized cold sensation during the treatment. The in-office and at-home whitening gels that we provide to our patients contain minerals in their composition that continue with this protection throughout the time that the whitening is used.

Read more: Why are my teeth yellow? causes, symptoms, remedies & more

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