Young woman with sensitive teeth holding a glass of cold water with ice

Why are my teeth so sensitive to cold water?

If you’ve ever felt dental discomfort after drinking something cold, whether it’s a mild twinge or a pain that lasts for hours, you’ll know how unpleasant and frustrating it can be. You may find that you’re bracing yourself every time you take a sip of water or you may start to avoid drinking cold drinks altogether.

Teeth sensitivity shouldn’t be something you just put up with though. If you can get to the root of the problem, there are things you can do to relieve your discomfort and prevent it from recurring.[1]

In this article, we take a look at some of the most common reasons that people struggle with sensitivity after drinking cold water.

Why are my teeth sensitive to cold water?

There are several reasons why people suffer from sensitivity to cold drinks. You should be aware that you may need to see a dentist to identify the cause of the problem. However, it may be possible for you to pinpoint the culprit by asking yourself the following questions.


Do I brush my teeth too hard?

Brushing your teeth is, of course, a good thing when it comes to caring for your dental health. Brushing too vigorously, however, can cause problems. When you brush with too much force, you can unintentionally corrode the enamel on your teeth and cause your gums to recede, which can result in the sensitive roots of your teeth being exposed.

Teeth sensitivity can be one of the first signs that your roots are exposed. If this problem is left untreated, you may develop periodontal disease so it’s important that you see a dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, you need to stop brushing your teeth so vigorously. It may help to use a brush with softer bristles, use only three fingers to hold your brush or to swap to an electric toothbrush.[1]


Do I grind my teeth?

Tooth grinding, or bruxism as it’s also called, can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear down over time. This can leave the dentine (the part of the tooth beneath the enamel) to be exposed, resulting in tooth sensitivity. Tooth grinding is generally caused by stress and it’s possible to grind your teeth without even knowing it (when you’re asleep at night, for example).

Other symptoms to look out for are facial pain, headaches, jaw stiffness and earache. Your teeth may even be visibly worn down or you may have broken or lost fillings. You should see your dentist if you think you may be grinding your teeth. Treatment may include wearing a mouth guard, muscle-relaxation exercises and/or cognitive behavioural therapy.[2]



Am I using teeth whitening products?

If you’re after the perfect smile, it may be tempting to try one of the many home teeth whitening kits, gels, strips or toothpastes on the market. Unfortunately however, these products come with risks. For example, by using a whitening mouthguard that hasn’t been made to fit the exact dimensions of your teeth, you may find that the bleaching agent can leak out and come into contact with your mouth’s soft tissues, resulting in sensitivity and other problems. You may also find that, because they’re not professional-level products, they simply do not work, which means that by buying them you’re not only risking your dental health, but you may be wasting your money too.

If you want whiter teeth, you should visit a registered dental professional. Unqualified individuals (for example, beauty technicians) are not legally allowed to offer professional teeth whitening so you shouldn’t risk your health by opting for treatment by anyone other than a registered dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist.[3]


Could I have gum disease?

Gum disease is a common dental problem that can cause sore, swollen and infected gums. It is caused by plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) building up on your teeth. Symptoms can include teeth sensitivity, bleeding gums and bad breath. If gum disease isn’t treated in the early stages, you could go on to develop periodontitis, which could eventually cause your teeth to loosen and fall out. It’s important to get gum disease under control at the first opportunity by visiting your dentist. They can professionally clean your teeth to remove plaque buildup.

You can prevent plaque buildup from recurring by ensuring you brush your teeth regularly and effectively and by using floss picks or interdental brushes to clean around and between your teeth.[4]


Do I have a broken, cracked or chipped tooth?

You may have fractured a tooth without even realising it, or you may have put off going to the dentist because it didn’t hurt or you simply don’t like seeing the dentist. Perhaps you thought there’s nothing they could do about it anyway.

Breaking, cracking or chipping your teeth isn’t usually anything to worry about. However, it does require urgent attention. If seen in time, your dentist may be able to glue the broken off piece of your tooth back on. If left or if the problem is not as straightforward, you may need a filling, a crown or root canal treatment. Getting appropriate treatment is important as leaving a damaged tooth unattended could lead to severe pain and put you at risk of infection.[5]


Teeth sensitivity is not uncommon but it can usually be prevented by following a good oral hygiene routine. If you are suffering from tooth sensitivity, you should visit your dentist to find out the best treatment option for you. In time, you should be able to get back to enjoying cold drinks once again.[1]







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