woman with sensitive teeth

If you find yourself avoiding food or drinks that hurt your teeth because they are too cold (or too hot), you probably have sensitive teeth. Eating an ice cream cone or popsicle or drinking an icy or frozen drink should be enjoyable and pain free. When teeth are healthy, they have a layer of enamel that protects them from damage and sensitivity or pain. Over time, due to a variety of reasons, the enamel may begin to erode, exposing the inner layers of teeth and can result in sensitive or painful teeth. If you think you have sensitive teeth, it is important to visit your dentist to identify the cause, as in some cases sensitive teeth are a symptom of gum disease and/or tooth decay. There are many things you can do both at home, and with the help of your dentist to relieve tooth sensitivity and treat the underlying cause.  

What Causes Teeth to be Sensitive to the Cold? 

While some people do have naturally sensitive teeth, in most cases sensitivity to cold or hot foods and drinks is a symptom of another oral health issue. Some of the causes of temperature sensitive teeth are: 

-Cavities / Tooth decay  

-Gum Disease 

-Worn fillings or Tooth Enamel Erosion 

-Fractured or Damaged Teeth 

-Exposed Tooth Root  

-Teeth Grinding 

What can I do at Home to Help Tooth Sensitivity? 

Keep Teeth Healthy – Practicing excellent oral health is vital to the protection and preservation of your teeth. Brushing well for two minutes twice a day, flossing daily and seeing your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings will go a long way toward preventing enamel erosion and other damage to the surface of your teeth. You should see your dentist every 6 months for a checkup and cleaning, and have x-rays taken annually.  

Special toothpaste – With regular use, desensitizing toothpaste can work to block the pain that is associated with sensitive teeth.  

Use a Straw – Using a straw can help allow overly cold drinks to bypass your teeth when drinking. While this won’t help with the actual cause or reduce sensitivity, it can help you to enjoy cold drinks until you are able to remedy the problem.  

Drink Water after Eating – Drinking sips of room temperature water immediately after eating or drinking something cold can help to quickly restore the mouth’s natural temperature and wash away the triggering food.  

What can my dentist do for Sensitive Teeth? 

Fluoride Treatment – Your dentist can apply a fluoride treatment directly onto the affected teeth. This works to strengthen the enamel and diminish pain. Your dentist may also recommend a take home treatment, which usually includes the fluoride treatment that is applied with a custom tray. 

Surgical Gum Graft – In some cases, tooth sensitivity is caused by an exposed root due to gum loss. The best treatment in this case is a gum graft, where gum tissue is taken from another part of the mouth and attached to the gumline, protecting the root of the tooth and preventing future pain and discomfort. 

Bonding – The application of a special resin to an exposed root or other areas when enamel has eroded can help to protect teeth. This is known as bonding.  

Root canal – If other efforts to treat the teeth and reduce pain have failed, your dentist may recommend a root canal. This procedure is used to treat problems that occur within the tooth’s soft pulp. Despite what you may have heard, root canals can often be done fairly quickly and afterpain can be minimal and easily managed. Root canals are also widely considered the best and most effective treatment for tooth sensitivity.  

Mouthguard – If you grind your teeth while sleeping, ask your dentist for a custom mouthguard which can help to protect your teeth from further damage and limit sensitivity.  


Having teeth that are sensitive to cold can be annoying and can prevent us from enjoying the foods and drinks we love. The good news is that there are many things that can be done to prevent and reverse tooth sensitivity and pain. If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, it is best to see your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist can help you to treat the underlying cause of tooth sensitivity and prevent your pain or discomfort from worsening. Contact our Guelph Dentists office today to learn more about sensitive teeth and how we can help you get back to enjoying the cold and refreshing foods and drinks you love, pain free.  

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