My Tooth is Suddenly Sensitive to Cold… What Does This Mean?

Three ice cubes on white background.As surprising as this may sound, tooth sensitivity can be affected by age; and we’re not talking about old age, either. Tooth sensitivity is highest between ages 25 to 30, so if you’ve been taking good care of your teeth, they show no signs of decay, and you’ve been seeing your dentist regularly, you probably don’t have much to worry about. However, a suddenly tooth or teeth can be symptoms of another problem.

Dental Alert

There are many reasons for someone to develop sensitivity. You may be developing tooth decay near the gum line. Since you see no decay on top of the tooth, you might not be aware a cavity exists, but it can create tiny holes near the gum in front or the back of the tooth.

You could also be developing gingivitis. Inflamed or sore gums may cause sensitivity due to the loss of supporting ligaments, which exposes the root surface leading directly to the tooth. If you have advanced gingivitis, that is periodontal disease, the gums are moving away from the tooth, exposing the roots.

Teeth grinding can also cause sudden sensitivity. Habitual grinding or clenching your teeth wears down the enamel, exposing the underlying dentin.

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Other reasons for seeing your dentist for sensitivity include a cracked or broken tooth, which may fill up with plaque, causing inflammation, a loose filling or an improperly fitting crown. Let your dentist know right away if a filling or crown is causing you pain, as replacement should be prompt to prevent long lasting damage.

What’s in Your Mouthwash?

Long term use of certain over the counter mouthwashes can actually contain acids that can worsen tooth sensitivity if you have exposed dentin, which is the middle layer of your teeth. The acid will further damage the dentin. If your mouthwash is giving you tooth sensitivity, ask your dentist about a natural fluoride solution.

Highly acidic foods can also give you tooth sensitivity. If you eat a lot of citrus fruits, tomatoes and other foods with high acid content, they could be wearing away at the enamel of your teeth, causing sensitivity to the dentin.

Rules for Sensitive Teeth

Continue to follow a good brushing and flossing routine to maintain the good health of your teeth. Use a soft bristle brush and brush gently. Try desensitizing toothpaste. There are several different brands for sensitive teeth. With regular use, you should notice a difference in the degree of sensitivity. You may have to try several different brands before you find the best one for you.

If you have any questions concerning a newly sensitive tooth, contact our office today!

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28 Responses to My Tooth is Suddenly Sensitive to Cold… What Does This Mean?

  1. Leroy McKane says:

    I’ve recently started using a new toothpaste but I’m worried that my hard bristle toothbrush could be causing damage to my teeth or just counteracting the toothpaste? Should I use a softer bristle toothbrush as well?

    • Southeast Family Dental says:

      Leroy, a hard bristle brush will not counteract the effects of your toothpaste, but it can cause damage to your gums. We advise using a soft bristle brush with a fluoridated toothpaste.

  2. shannon says:

    i have suddenly developed a sensitive tooth only in the last couple of days, my front left tooth, when i have something cold its particularly sensitive, ive never had sensitive teeth before and regularly brush and floss, what could it be? or how can i fix this?

  3. Southeast Family Dental says:

    Shannon,

    Thank you for your question! We are happy to help any way we can. Unfortunately, sensitivity on a tooth can be a tough thing to diagnose without taking a look. On a front tooth, it can be as simple as gum that has receded (pulled up from the tooth) that allows air to meet the root surface. The root surface is much more porous so allows anything (air, bacteria, etc) better access to the nerve of the tooth and this can, in turn, lead to sensitivity. Sensitivity can also be caused by trauma to a tooth. Trauma can be anything from falling and hitting the tooth or biting into something particularly hard. Something people often don’t think about are habits. Do you have a habit of biting your nails? Holding a pen between your teeth? Any of these can cause enough trauma to the tooth that it can lead to sensitivity. If it is something that continues for a week, call us (or your local dentist if you are not in our area) to have an exam and xray taken to make sure it is a simple fix!

  4. Ashley P. says:

    I had a filling done approximately around 2-3 years ago and I never had a problem with it. However, just a few days ago my tooth suddenly became sensitive to cold when I took a bite out of my ice cream sundae. As a result, I went to see my dentist but he said there was nothing wrong with my filling. There are no cavities and the filling is not coming off. Could there be something else wrong?

    • Southeast Family Dental says:

      Many times if there is something wrong with a filling it won’t show up on our xrays right away. It could still be that the filling has cracked, but because the xray is a 2 dimensional picture of a 3 dimensional, it can be hard for your dentist to see. Sudden tenderness to cold can also be from acute trauma to the tooth by even biting into something the wrong way. This can lead to a type of “concussion” on the tooth leaving it sensitive to cold, and sometimes bite for a few weeks. The least common, but possible reason, could be the tooth itself is cracked. This, again, is very difficult to see on an xray. I would recommend giving the tooth a few weeks to see if it resolves on its own, but if not, your dentist may want to do some further testing.

  5. Robin says:

    Hi I’ve had a tooth that had a deep cavity that was filled with a composite filling and I still have some cold sensitivity. My dentist is keeping a watch on it as he said that the root was inflamed is it possible that the drilling to get the bad part away shook the root and it just needs to calm down or should I be prepared to possibly need a root canal in the future? Thanks.

    • Southeast Family Dental says:

      It is very common to have sensitivity after a filling is done. I tell my patients to except up to 2 weeks of cold sensitivity. As long as the sensitivity continues to improve, it is very possible the tooth won’t need a root canal. But it also depends on how deep the cavity was. If it was close to the nerve, it makes it more likely that a root canal is in you future. I would definitely be aware of the sensitivity and note if it is improving or not.

  6. Aleisha says:

    One of my bottom back teeth all of the sudden responded very sensitively to ice cream and cold water and now even less cold things bother it. The pain isn’t horrible, but it’s definitely noticeable. I take good care of my teeth using classic crest toothpaste and a flouride mouth wash every other day or so. What do you suggest I do?

  7. Kacie says:

    Yesterday I bit into a hard candy and hurt my tooth. Last night and again today that one tooth is really sensitive to cold food, even room temperature fruit. Should I go see a dentist right away or wait for it to resolve on its own? If I should wait, how long? If I eat cold things on the other side of my mouth it is fine, but not always practical. I am in Korea and a little afraid both of the language barrier and quality of care to see a dentist.

    • Southeast Family Dental says:

      I would give it two weeks as long as it doesn’t get worse. Sometimes when a tooth is hit or we bite something hard, it can have a sort of “concussion” that can take a couple weeks to resolve. If you feel like your bite has changed or it gets worse, I would go right away!

  8. steph says:

    I just had white fillings put in back in August and now 1 with the top left molar is sensitive to cold liquids, warm liquids and any solid food I feel fine. Should I worry? I also wear a night guard made by the dentist if that makes a difference.

    • Southeast Family Dental says:

      Sensitivity with the white, or resin, fillings is common right after placement, but a couple months after is a little strange. I would have your dentist take a look to make sure everything is ok. It could be as easy as adjusting the bite on it, but I would have it checked as soon as you can in case it’s something else.

  9. Jenn says:

    Good Morning,
    I had a root canal done a couple of weeks ago, and I just had my apt for the post and temp crown about a week ago. Now all of a sudden my surrending teeth are sensitvie to the cold. Is this normal. Should I find a dentist?

    Thank you

  10. Jenn says:

    find a new dentist. sorry

  11. Niki says:

    One of my front teeth (the one to the right of my right front tooth) just recently started being extremely sensitive to cold drinks, food, and even the very cold weather when I go outside. It’s a very sharp pain that shoots through my tooth lasting about 30 seconds. I have had a sinus infection for about a month now and have received nasal steroids and antibiotics but nothing helped and now this tooth problem started about 3 days ago. What could the problem be?

  12. Jason says:

    I’ve been feeling a little discomfort on one of my molars everytime I drink something cold. Could it be the tooth itself or my gums? It doesnt hurt when I eat anything. Cold water makes it hurt and starts to have a throbbing pain afterwards. The pain is about a 4 out of 10 and bearable. I scheduled an appointment with my dentist but its not for a few days. Anything I can do in the meantime to help relieve the pain?

  13. Gerry Piturro says:

    I just had a filling done in September. Instantly after I had the filling done, the tooth beside it became cold sensitive. I went to my dentist and he said that I need a root canal and referred me out of his office. I went to the other dentist, and he said I don’t need a root canal. The tooth is just sensitive. Why has this happened? It wasn’t sensitive until I had the filling in the other tooth.

  14. Pati says:

    I had a filling in my superior central incisor around 4 years ago. This was due to a dark spot- that ” could progress or not”, so we decided to do a filling.I am very careful brushing/flossing. Today suddenly I experienced sensitivity to cold- event touching my tooth with my cold hand would felicitate pain. I have no pain/disconfort otherwise. When using a mirror to look at the bad of my tooth I see a dark spot, going from the previous filling ( that now is an white area) towards the inferior border of my tooth. In order to avoid canal treatment, should I go right away or can I wait 3 weeks? ( I wil be traveling soon, and don’t want to start a treatment in a place, with on edits, and have to finish with another in another place– this always make things complicated.

  15. Gina says:

    Hi!! Over the past week my bottom front teeth….front four are constantly sensitive. I switched toothpastes to one that is a hydrogen peroxide formula. I’m switching back to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth and hope it works. My teeth are killing me. Any advice? Thanks

  16. Muhammad Akbar says:

    My teeth are feeling cold and sour since the last two months, I am with the problem that I came some bloos with mucus from my mouth, Kindly guide me

  17. Kate says:

    I was chewing trail mix today when I accidentally bit down hard on one of my front bottom teeth, a little while later I realized that it was sensitive when I breathed in. I looked in the mirror and I noticed a small white spot on the tooth. Did the enamel chip off in this spot? If so, will the sensitivity go away or should I get a sealant or something?

  18. Marisha says:

    Hello!
    I have been using invisalign to close my gap between my two front teeth and to straighten my lower teeth. I’m now a month in and I suddenly have severe sensitivity in one of my front teeth and a couple of my bottom ones. Is my invisalign ruining my teeth? What should I do? I really love how my teeth are coming together and I would hate to hate to have to stop with my treatment.

  19. Jason Davidson says:

    I recently developed super high sensitivity on the backs of my lower front teeth. At my last dental visit in February I was told I had no cavities or periodontal disease, but I have been facing a very high level of stress lately. Could the stress cause only a small number of teeth to become super sensitive? Or could something else entirely be involved? I am only 15.

  20. Asia says:

    I had all 4 of my wisom teeth removed about 2 weeks ago. Is it normal to feel discomfort occasionally in one of the areas where I had the extraction.

  21. Kimberly says:

    About five years back I got several fillings. Since that day I’ve had problems with those particular teeth, maninly sensitivity. I can’t eat or drink something cold without feeling some sort of discomfort. As of late this has amplified and I’m having odd feelings in my two front teeth. They feel almost cold. I thought it was because of the sensitivity but I’ve noticed that it occurs when I eat food as well. Any ideas as to what can be going on?

  22. Cally says:

    I have noticed the past week that my front right tooth has become very sensitive to cold things, I do have braces and I know they sometimes make peoples teeth more sensitive. Should I go to the dentist? Is it a cavity? I normally brush my teeth around every night, and I have never had a cavity before.

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