We all like to enjoy a nice, refreshing beverage or a bite of ice cream now and then. But, if you feel a sudden jolt of pain in your teeth and gums when you do, you may be suffering from tooth sensitivity.

Sensitive teeth are very common and can be caused by many factors which tend to leave sensitive parts of the tooth exposed. Here are some reasons why you might be experiencing pain when your teeth come into contact with cold foods or beverages, and what can be done about it.


Gum disease

Tooth sensitivity can be caused by gum disease. This is especially true if you experience regular pain or discomfort in your teeth or gums, even when they haven’t been exposed to something cold.  You can think of this as a generally heightened state of sensitivity or irritability.

Plaque buildup can lead to gingivitis, which can advance to gum/periodontal disease if left untreated. Gum disease should be taken seriously and treated as soon as possible. If you are concerned that you may have gum disease, book a dental appointment to consult with a professional.

One of the best ways to prevent gum disease is to use proper brushing and flossing techniques, which you can learn more about here.


Enamel erosion

Enamel, the protective outer layer of the teeth, is extremely durable. However, enamel can wear down over time, exposing the more fragile parts of the tooth and causing sensitivity.

A few causes of enamel erosion include consuming sugary, acidic or starchy foods and drinks, overusing certain dental products, teeth grinding (which can be worsened by certain medications), or trauma.

While enamel does not grow back, there are ways that a dentist can help to prevent further erosion and reduce sensitivity, depending on the cause and extent of the erosion.


Receding gums

Receding gums leave sensitive areas of the tooth, which sometimes includes the root of the tooth, exposed. Tooth roots are not covered by protective enamel.

There are many factors that can lead to receding gums, including gum disease, genetics and pressure caused by teeth grinding or a misaligned bite.

Whatever the cause, it’s important to see a dental professional so that they can address the issue, prevent further damage and help reduce sensitivity.


Tooth damage

Broken or cracked teeth that leave the tooth’s dentin exposed may cause sensitivity. This is also true for worn-out fillings.

If the sensitivity seems to be centralized to certain teeth that have been damaged or had fillings, this is a likely cause. A dentist can repair damaged teeth or fillings, consequently reducing sensitivity.



If you are experiencing centralized sensitivity around a certain tooth but are not aware of any damage or fillings, you may have a cavity.

Cavities are caused by tooth decay, exposing the tooth’s dentin, an inner layer of the tooth that is normally protected by the enamel, causing pain and sensitivity. Cavities can be fixed with fillings — book a dental appointment to discuss different options for fillings with a professional.


Dying teeth

If you are experiencing centralized sensitivity around a certain tooth that is long standing, worsening, or is particularly sensitive to heat – then you may actually have a dying tooth.

Teeth most often die based on how long a problem is left untreated. This can be minimized by seeking care early.

While occasional sensitivity to extreme temperatures is normal, consistent pain or discomfort is not. At Kelowna Dental Solutions, we will investigate the root cause of your sensitive teeth and make the best recommendations for your comfort and oral health. Contact us today to book an appointment.

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