Southeast Family Dental staff eating ice cream

Do you find yourself crying out, “ hurts my teeth!”? If you are one of the estimated 40 million adults in the United States who experience tooth sensitivity to cold, eating can actually be a less than enjoyable experience!

Tooth sensitivity can be minor or indicate a serious dental problem. When a patient states, “Ice cream hurts my teeth”, or complains of general cold sensitivity, the team at Southeast Family Dental will carefully examine the patient’s teeth to determine the cause. Understanding the causes of sensitive teeth is the key to alleviating the pain.

Causes of sensitive teeth

1. Brushing too hard

Vigorously brushing your teeth back and forth with a hard-bristled toothbrush can gradually wear down tooth enamel at the gum line and expose the nerve endings. Exposed and irritated nerve endings can cause sharp tooth pain. Southeast Family Dental recommends patients use a soft bristled toothbrush.

2. Using tooth-whitening toothpastes

Whitening tooth pastes can give you a brighter smile, but they often contain course whitening particles and bleaching agents that can cause tooth discomfort and sensitivity. Take a break from tooth-whitening toothpastes to see if your tooth sensitivity subsides.

3. Naturally shrinking gums

If you’re over 40, it could be that your gums are showing signs of age and pulling away from your teeth and uncovering your tooth roots. Tooth roots don’t have enamel to protect them so they are more sensitive than the rest of your tooth. Southeast Family Dental can recommend fluoride treatments and desensitizing toothpastes to help reduce sensitivity.

Southeast Family Dental staff eating ice cream

4. Periodontal disease

Regular dental cleanings are important for removing plaque and avoiding periodontal disease. Plaque and calculus buildup on your teeth can make your gums pull back and expose nerve endings in the roots. Treating periodontal disease early can prevent tooth sensitivity and tooth loss.

5. A cracked tooth or filling

When your break a tooth, the crack can go all the way down to the root. The crack may not be visible but you’ll notice sharp pain when your tooth is cold. If you are thinking to yourself, “Ice cream hurts my teeth!”, don’t keep it to yourself. The Southeast Family Dental team will take an x-ray of the tooth and determine if your cracked tooth can be repaired with a new filling or crown.

6. Grinding your teeth

Grinding you teeth while sleeping can wear down tooth enamel and expose nerve endings in the tooth and cause sensitivity to cold. A custom- made mouth guard is recommended to prevent tooth grinding and tooth sensitivity.

7. Tooth decay

An untreated cavity or a worn dental filling may expose nerve endings in a tooth. A cold drink or treat will cause a sharp pain in the affected tooth. Regular dental check-ups and exams can detect tooth decay before it causes tooth pain.