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Why are my teeth sensitive to temperature?

We have all been in the situation where one or more teeth were sensitive to temperature. The questions that arise are what is causing it and can I handle it on my own or do I need a dentist. I am going to give you some general guidelines. Remember, general means that they often work, but not always.

Cold sensitivity can be rather annoying but usually means a healthy tooth is having a bad day. Patients often see this when they have gum recession or have recently had gum surgery. This is because in both of these circumstances some of the root of the tooth is now exposed and the root has live nerve cells which then complain when you have something cold or acidic. What to do? Start out with Sensodyne F or another desensitizing toothpaste. Use it at least twice a day for three to four months. If sensitivity still exists after that period then you need to try a desensitizing toothpaste with a different active ingredient or see a dentist for one of his in-office solutions.

If your cold sensitivity seems to be concentrated on one tooth only it could be because you bit on something the wrong way or that your bite is off. Another possibility is that you have a "leaky" filling. See your dentist in these circumstances.

Heat sensitivity can be much more ominous than cold. This is because it is usually an indication that the nerve is sick and getting sicker. The one exception is if you are a person who does not like to drink hot liquids. This means that all your teeth have been sensitive to heat for a long time and you have just adjusted to that fact. If the hot sensitivity is a recent development you need to see a dentist to test whether the nerve of a tooth is dying. If so, you will need to treat the tooth with a root canal. Don't delay in seeing the dentist because the tooth is in a downward spiral which will eventually lead to an abscess and pain.

To review, cold is usually a better sign than hot. In addition, if the sensitivity lasts for a long time after you take the stimulus away that is a worse sign than short duration. If there are times that the tooth hurts without stimulus that is also a bad sign. Don't delay! Get to your dentist so he or she can diagnose the problem.

Unless you are a patient of Dr. Landin's and have seen him very recently, this should not be construed as dental advice but only as information. Please consult your own dentist in regard to your personal situation or condition.

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