Dr. Mark Bohnert, DDS of Southeast Family Dental in Indianapolis, Indiana visually demonstrates why your tooth may be sensitive to cold or other elements.

If you can not see the embedded video above please use the following link: Why is my tooth so sensitive? A visual explanation


Hi, this is Dr. Mark Bohnert from Southeast Family Dental, and I was going to discuss today tooth sensitivity. We’ve had a lot of questions and concerns about cold sensitivity that comes on spontaneously. So I thought I would come together with this and try to explain visually what can be going on.

I have two things here. One is a piece of tile, and the next is a piece of Styrofoam that would mimic the two layers of the teeth. The tile would be the enamel of the tooth. The Styrofoam would be what’s call the dentin layer of the tooth. The tile, representing the enamel, is hard and impervious to much of anything, whereas the Styrofoam is softer. It has some tubules that will go directly down to the nerve of the tooth.

Let me explain a couple reasons that we may find sensitivity. Let’s pretend we are looking at the side of a tooth, and we have this little black hole. You always wonder why the dentist comes around and starts poking on your teeth. We’re looking for this little, small black hole that we can get that instrument into. The reason that that is important, without an x-ray, we can see that there is some decay that has started.

The issue that most people don’t understand, that small opening allows bacteria to get down into the tooth. Once it gets to the next layer, which is the dentin, all of a sudden that gets to be larger and larger, to where the decay starts to cause sensitivity. So just remember, a small cavity, that you can see or the dentist can see, gets to be a larger area once it penetrates through the enamel.

All right. Let’s look at another example of where may find some sensitivity in a tooth. Here is an example. We’ve got the enamel that is butted up against the gum tissue, which is the pink. Now as we get older or we do not brush properly, we start to get some recession of the gum, where the enamel becomes exposed to the very root surface. Next thing you know, we’re down to the dentin layer of the tooth, which then again has those tubules that go directly to the nerve of the tooth. With more and more recession, it’s more and more likely that we will get that sensitivity that is directly related to the cold sensitivity you may find.

Two examples of where we would find some sensitivity. If you have questions, give us a call. Again, this is Dr. Mark Bohnert with Southeast Family Dental.