As a hygienist, one of the most common complaints I hear from patients on a daily basis is that they experience either widespread or localized cold sensitivity. It may be transient in nature or happen regularly. There are a number of common factors in cold sensitivity and it’s generally a pretty easy complaint to address.


Many patient’s experiencing cold sensitivity have recession. When the gum tissue recedes, the tooth root is exposed to temperature changes, food and plaque it would not ordinarily come in contact with. The thing to keep in mind if you fit this description is that you want to avoid certain factors which cause hypersensitivity along root surfaces. Whitening and tarter control toothpastes should be avoided. These toothpastes are more abrasive in nature and can cause irritation in areas not covered by enamel. Using whitening trays with bleach can also have the same effect. Root surfaces can also become sensitive due to acid in the foods/drinks you eat or the acid plaque produces if homecare is not adequate. It’s important to keep your teeth as clean as possible without “over scrubbing”. You want to effectively remove the plaque with a toothbrush and floss, but remember that it is a soft substance and using a lot of force behind your scrubbing can further irritate/damage tooth structure. Do you clench or grind your teeth at night? This can also be a factor.


So you’ve stopped using your whitening toothpaste weeks ago and your teeth are adequately cleaned (thank you very much!) but your sensitivity is still present. What now? A sensitive toothpaste will generally take care of the problem. There are many over the counter pastes available to try. You should use the sensitive paste every time you brush. When you’re done brushing, do not rinse with water afterwards. You want the paste to sit on your teeth a minimum of ½ hour. If you’ve tried an over the counter paste without success, we can help!


We stock a prescription strength paste with a higher level of fluoride than what’s available at your local store. This will generally take care of any residual sensitivity. There is also a product called fluoride varnish which can be painted on your teeth following a dental cleaning in our office. The varnish stays in place for a number of hours before being brushed from the teeth at home. If your teeth show signs of clenching/grinding, a custom-fit night guard will be recommended and should also decrease sensitivity.


If you’re having problems with tooth sensitivity, let us know! We’re here to help and there are a number of solutions which can get you on the road to pain-free eating/drinking in no time!