Have you ever felt thirsty and reached for a refreshing beverage, only to experience a jolt of pain with your first sip? If so, you may have asked yourself, “Why does my tooth hurt when I drink something cold?”

When it comes to your teeth, pain is often a warning sign that something is wrong. Sensitivity to temperatures is a sign of oral health issues that you need to address. They will often not resolve independently, so you must seek care. The good news is that you can find relief from the pain with the right dental or endodontic practitioner.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 40 million American adults suffer from some degree of tooth sensitivity. You aren’t alone, and we’re here to help give you some ideas about your next steps.

This article isn’t a substitute for dental care. We hope it gives you some information you can use as you see your dentist and navigate healthcare decisions.

So Why Does My Tooth Hurt When I Drink Something Cold?

As mentioned, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures shows you need dental care. You may notice pain or discomfort when you eat or drink something hot or cold. Sometimes tooth sensitivity is temporary. If it lasts more than three or four days, see your dentist for a diagnostic evaluation to determine the cause and extent of the problem.

Next, we will cover a few common causes of tooth sensitivity. Understanding these causes can help you learn how to prevent further pain and damage to your teeth. Remember that if you already have a damaged tooth, appropriate treatment is required to restore wellness.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Here are a few common causes of temperature sensitivity and tooth pain.

Tooth Grinding

Bruxism or tooth grinding wears away precious tooth enamel over time. The tooth’s sensitive roots become exposed by wearing away the enamel, and cracks could form.

If you grind your teeth, your dentist may prescribe or recommend that you wear a mouthguard while sleeping to minimize further damage.

Receding Gums

Gum disease or inflammation cause gums to recede, exposing sensitive roots. Your gums react to bacteria and become inflamed and then recede or pull away from the teeth as the inflammation progresses. The exposed roots cause pain and sensitivity.

In the early stages of gum disease, daily brushing and flossing can help reduce inflammation, pain, and sensitivity. You may require a dentist or endodontist’s care for more advanced gum disease.

Cracks or Fractures in a Tooth

If your tooth is cracked or fractured, the pulp, which contains sensitive nerves, may be exposed. This can result in pain and sensitivity.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay results in holes in the teeth or cavities. These cavities also may expose nerves.

Keep consistent with your regularly scheduled dental examinations and cleanings to prevent tooth decay. When your dentist finds and fills cavities, it prevents or relieves tooth sensitivity caused by those cavities.

Abscess

An untreated bacterial infection through a cavity or dental injury can lead to an abscess. The abscess is a pocket of pus.

The best treatment for an abscess is prevention. If you already have an abscess, a root canal is likely your best alternative to extracting the tooth. See an endodontist for a diagnosis and to learn about your treatment options.

Loss of Tooth Enamel

Your tooth enamel is a thin, hard outer layer of your teeth. It protects your teeth, but it can break down or wear away over time due to trauma. Once enamel is lost, nerve endings are exposed, leading to pain and sensitivity.

Other sources of tooth enamel damage include brushing the teeth too vigorously, using abrasive products on the teeth, excessive tooth bleaching, and dental injuries.

So why does your tooth hurt when you drink something cold or hot? You may have noticed a pattern. Pain while drinking cold beverages indicates that the sensitive nerves in the dental pulp are somewhat exposed due to root exposure, enamel loss, a cavity, or crack in the tooth.

Resolving Tooth Pain and Sensitivity

Schedule an appointment with a dentist or endodontist to pinpoint the cause of your tooth pain and develop a treatment plan. In the meantime, here are a few tips to prevent additional damage and relieve some of the discomforts:

  • Use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and be gentle when you brush your teeth.
  • Avoid or limit acidic food such as coffee, citrus juice, soda pop, and white wine.
  • Avoid home bleaching treatments.
  • Wear a mouthguard at night if you grind your teeth.
  • Floss and brush daily to minimize bacteria under the gumline.
  • Sometimes your dentist may prescribe remineralization treatments.

Make sure you visit your dentist when you experience tooth pain or sensitivity, and explain your symptoms. When it comes to your teeth, ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. Prompt dental care offers the opportunity to resolve the root of your pain and return to a life free of the pain. Imagine enjoying a nice glass of ice water or a hot cup of coffee without pain!

Get Relief By Treating the Source of the Pain

Your next step towards freeing yourself from tooth pain is to schedule an appointment with a skilled dental professional.

Resolving the pain and sensitivity source can restore wellness and balance to your mouth. Sometimes a root canal or endodontic treatment is the best option. If your dentist suggests a root canal, consider asking for a referral to an endodontist. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in saving natural teeth through root canals and other treatments.

The American Academy of Endodontists reports that the typical endodontist performs 25 root canal treatments each week, compared to general dentists who typically perform two root canals per week. When it comes to your root canal, skills and experience matter, so seek a referral to an endodontist near you.

Next Steps: Schedule an Appointment

Ballantyne Endodontics serves residents in Charlotte, NC, who need root canals or other endodontic treatments. Whenever possible, we strive to save your natural teeth. Preserving your natural teeth allows you to maintain your bite and continue looking and feeling (and smiling!) like yourself. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or learn how to request a referral.