Why do cold air and cold liquids hurt my teeth?
December 19, 2013
I thought you would never ask! It seems that the cold weather we in Northern Nevada have been having is a good test of how healthy our teeth are. Normally if we drink something cold or breath in cold air our teeth respond to the cold on them by letting us know that something cold has been detected. The teeth don't start to complain and ache unless we leave something very cold on them for a short while. When the cold is removed by swallowing or warming up the liquid or by not breathing through our mouths the sensation goes away. At least it does if the teeth are healthy. If the cold sensation persists or causes an ache or worse there is a good chance that one of the teeth has a nerve disease called irreversible (won't get better) pulpitis (nerve disease).
In the winter months, breathe in and out through your nose whenever possible, when you are outdoors in cold weather because breathing cold air through the mouth can often make your teeth sensitive. The lips, cheek and tongue tend to insulate your teeth from the cold if your mouth is closed as I am sure you already know.
Breathing abnormally cold air through the mouth can cause the teeth to contract and then expand again when heated back to body temperature. Over time, this causes the teeth to develop numerous small cracks in the enamel that weaken the teeth.
Some teeth are sensitive not only to cold stimuli, but they are also sensitive to even mildly cooler temperatures of food or drink. This discomfort does not last long and usually only affects the nerve because the microscopic nerve endings on the roots have been exposed by brushing too hard or using too hard of a brush. It can be quite painful during the moments after the nerve endings have been touched however. Treatment can be as simple as using a soft tooth brush and desensitizing tooth paste to the use of special coatings that the dentist or hygienist applies to the exposed sensitive areas to block the pain.
Try the tooth paste at first and after a few weeks if you haven't gotten relief schedule an appointment to have desensitizing coatings placed on the teeth. Left untreated you get to keep having to avoid touching the affected teeth with anything that changes your mouth temperature or if you forget, you get pain.
Should you be experiencing any of the above symptoms give us a call today (775-423-7400) and we will evaluate your teeth.
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Responses to Why do cold air and cold liquids hurt my teeth?
Since I can't actually see your teeth, I will be limited to possible causes. Teeth, under the outer shell of enamel are composed of a material called dentin which has extremely small tubules that extend from the nerve of the tooth to the underside edge of the enamel.
If through brushing a little too hard or with a toothbrush that is too hard the enamel over one or more of these tubules is exposed to the air it will be irritated and cause pain. Another possibility is sensitivity due to fillings that are deep enough so as to be close to the nerve.
Temperature changes are not appreciated by the tooth nerve and could be the cause of your tooth pain.
It would be beneficial if the dentist could simulate the condition you are experiencing and perhaps narrow it down to a single tooth whose nerve is compromised. That tooth could be treated and life would be good again. Hope this helps.
Are your teeth sensitive to cold air?
Have you ever found yourself in this situation? You've just gone outside. It's early in the morning, there's a chill in the air. You take in a quick breath through your mouth and WHAM — your teeth jolt you with a shock of pain that carries all the way up inside your head and stops somewhere behind your eyes. If you have, then congratulations, you're a member of the sensitive teeth club. But how did this happen you ask.
Well, teeth sensitivity tends to creep up on most of us; it doesn't happen overnight. But we tend not to notice it at first. Then, when it's gone on for a while, we'll notice it when we're shocked by something very cold, like our favorite ice cream dessert or that cold beer at the end of a long, hard day. So acquiring teeth sensitivity to cold doesn't happen overnight.
The tooth sensitivity occurs specifically when our gums recede; they shrink away from the roots of our teeth and expose them a bit. That little bit is just enough to expose the tiny pores or tubules that cover the roots. These pores are little freeways to the inside of the root where the pulp and nerve live.
So when we suck in some cold air or suck down a cold drink, that cold is transferred straight down to our nerves. And the nerves don't like that so they shoot off a pain message telling your brain that they're unhappy.
Now our gums can recede for a couple of reasons. First, they can recede because we don't take good care of them. We ignore good oral hygiene and let plaque build up on our teeth until it turns to tartar and harms the gums. And when the gums aren't healthy, the teeth aren't healthy – it's as simple as that.
The second way our gums can recede is, oddly enough, if we take oral hygiene to the extreme — specifically, if we over-brush our teeth. For instance, if we brush too many times a day or for too long or if we use a toothbrush that's too hard, we can damage our gums over time.
If you find that your teeth are sensitive to cold air, you can do something about it. To start off, you can make sure to practice proper oral hygiene. Then you can switch to a toothpaste that's specifically made to combat sensitivity. There are several on the market and they all use the same active ingredients. After a couple of weeks your sensitivity should be reduced — if it isn't then you should see your dentist for a full check-up.
Just because your teeth have become sensitive doesn't mean they have to stay that way. Take a couple of positive steps and you should see some relief.
It's odd if it's only in the cold weather. You could be clenching your jaw when you're out and not realizing it, people tend to tense up in the cold trying to keep warm. Tightly clenching your jaw will obviously cause pain after awhile.