Why Your Teeth Hurt When You Eat Hot or Cold Food

close up of a woman's hand holding a red cocktail
Author: cmcgovern Posted: April 8th, 2021 Category:

Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods is a common condition that has several different causes. In some cases, home remedies are enough to relieve temperature sensitivity — but sometimes you’ll need to visit a professional. 

Ever wonder why other people seem perfectly comfortable biting into an ice cream cone, when just the thought of it sends shivers down your spine? Or maybe you swish your coffee around your mouth, since the hot liquid makes your teeth ache. If you experience temperature sensitivity, you’re not alone over 45 million Americans are affected by sensitive teeth.

Before you can address your tooth sensitivity, you’ll need to understand what causes it. Let’s investigate some of the most common causes of temperature sensitivity — and how you can prevent discomfort. 

Why Do Certain Foods Make My Teeth Hurt?

Your teeth are filled with tiny channels called dentinal tubules, which connect the enamel on the outside of your teeth to the soft pulp at the center. Dentinal tubules transport important nutrients, fluids, and other substances from your pulp to your enamel. These little channels are also used to communicate information like pressure and temperature from the outside world to the sensitive nerves in your pulp.

When your teeth are extremely sensitive, it means your dentinal tubules have become overexposed to the surface of your teeth. There are several ways in which your dentinal tubules can become exposed to the elements, including: 

  • Acidic foods. Highly acidic foods such as citrus fruits, soda, tomatoes, coffee, and wine — just to name a few — can break down your enamel. When your enamel gets thin, your sensitive dentinal tubules will grow closer to the surface of your tooth, leading to increased sensitivity. 
  • Grinding your teeth. As you grind your teeth over the course of months or years, your enamel can wear down from constant pressure. Grinding may also create tiny cracks in your teeth, which can make your teeth especially sensitive. 
  • Brushing too hard. Overly enthusiastic brushing can put stress on your gums, which leads to a receding gum line. Because the root has much thinner enamel than the main surface of a tooth, your teeth may become increasingly sensitive as your gums retract. 
  • Receding gums. Aside from excessive brushing, there are a few other reasons why your gums might recede. Old age, genetic conditions, and infection are some other major causes of receding gums.

If you experience tooth sensitivity, it’s worth considering whether any of these causes may apply to you. If you can identify the reason why your teeth are becoming sensitive, you may be able to make some simple changes to your daily habits to prevent further discomfort. 

Addressing Temperature Sensitivity in Your Teeth

There are plenty of ways in which you can prevent your teeth from becoming too sensitive. To avoid enamel degradation, make sure to minimize your intake of acidic foods, and talk to your dentist about the possibility of getting a mouthguard (if you’re a tooth grinder). To prevent receding gums, brush your teeth gently with a soft toothbrush twice daily. You can also minimize discomfort by brushing with special toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. 

If you continue to experience discomfort, visit your dentist for assistance. Your dentist can examine your teeth to make sure your sensitivity isn’t a result of a cavity, and provide clinical treatments if necessary. There’s no way to regrow lost enamel, but your dentist might apply unique procedures — like a protective layer on top of your enamel — to seal a tooth from further damage. 

At Espire, our dentists offer professional solutions in a friendly environment. If you’re bothered by sensitive teeth, don’t wait for things to magically get better — contact us at Espire, and schedule an appointment today. Your smile is too important to wait!