The 5 oral health problems that can cause ‘cold-sensitive teeth’ – including grinding


Many people experience a cold sensation in their mouth after eating or drinking something frosty, but this sharp feeling could signal underlying teeth problems.

Cold-sensitive teeth occur when the nerves within the tooth are exposed due to stripped back enamel.

The enamel protects the inner, more fragile areas of your teeth and is the most important line of defence against tooth decay.

When this is worn away the nerves of the tooth become exposed to hot, cold, or sweet foods, as well as cold air, which can be painful.

There are many reasons why this sensitivity may be brought on, including wear and tear and receding gums.

It is advised that you visit your dentist if you notice unusual sensitivity for several days in a row.

Here are five reasons why you could have sensitive teeth.

Using tooth cleaning products too intensely
Tooth sensitivity can occur when you brush your teeth “too hard” or by overusing tooth whitening treatments, explains US toothpaste brand Crest.

There are also a number of foods and drinks that contain acids which can strip enamel too, such as wine, coffee and tomatoes.

These factors “can cause irreversible loss of your tooth enamel”, claim the oral hygiene brand.

Receding gums
This happens when the gums pull back from the teeth exposing more of the tooth, including the roots.

“Some people are genetically prone to thin gum tissue. Other people develop gum recession as a result of periodontal disease,” explains the Cleveland Clinic.

Health experts recommend taking a closer look at your gums to check whether they are receding.

Crest stated: “If you notice persistent sensitivity to cold or heat in your teeth, give them a closer look. Check your gum line to see whether your gums are pulling away from your teeth.”

Gum disease
More severe problems like gum disease could also cause sensitivity to cold.

Cleveland Clinic states: “Inflamed and sore gum tissue may cause sensitivity because of the loss of supporting ligaments, which exposes the root surface that leads directly to the nerve of the tooth.”

As well as experiencing coldness, tooth sensitivity may also show up as pain when biting down or chewing. The pain may be on only one tooth.

Grinding your teeth
Bruxism refers to a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth – this can wear away the enamel and expose your nerves.

Crest explains: “If you think that you are grinding your teeth, see your dental professional and ask about options for how to protect your teeth.”

Cracked teeth
Bacteria can build up in any broken or chipped teeth in the form of plaque, causing problems if it enters the pulp of your tooth.

The pulp is an area on the roots of your teeth containing thousands of small tubes that lead to the centre of your teeth where the nerve endings are.