Ouch! Why Do My Teeth Hurt When I Eat Ice Cream?

Don't keep living with tooth sensitivity.

Have sensitive teeth? You’re not alone.

Many people suffer from tooth sensitivity. While sensitive teeth are more common among women, people of any age and sex can experience tooth sensitivity at any part of their lives. If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, you’re likely wondering what you can do to reduce it. Our Valley Dental Clinic team in Wasilla, Alaska, has some ways to help you prevent tooth sensitivity so you can get back to enjoying all your favorite things.

What causes tooth sensitivity in the first place?

Do you have a hard time enjoying things like ice cream without it sending a “shock” through your teeth? Do sweets seem to cause tooth discomfort? Notice a twinge when you take a quick breath on a cold day? It’s not your imagination. There are many reasons why your teeth could become sensitive. Here are a few of the main ones:

Dental Abrasion

Brushing your teeth too aggressively can lead to something called dental abrasion. This simply means that the enamel has worn due to excessive force or motion over time. This wear can expose the sensitive dentin underneath, making the slightest change in temperature or acidity an uncomfortable experience.

Dental Erosion

Enamel erosion happens when your teeth slowly lose enamel slowly from regular acid attacks. A good example of this is constant consumption of acidic foods or drinks, like sipping on soft drinks throughout the day. These lower the pH of your mouth over an extended period of time, which weakens the enamel considerably. Over time, these instances erode the enamel and expose the inner layer of dentin.

Receding Gums

If your gums are receding, either naturally from aging or as a result of progressing gum disease, the roots of the teeth will become exposed. These areas are naturally more sensitive because they are not covered by enamel at all. This is a common culprit of tooth sensitivity to air.

Teeth Grinding

People who grind their teeth (almost always unconsciously) often experience tooth sensitivity due to enamel wear from the excess force. This is also known as attrition, meaning the wear is from tooth-to-tooth friction versus an outside factor like overbrushing. If you suspect you’re a bruxer, our team at Valley Dental Clinic can create a mouth guard to protect your teeth and keep you from grinding in your sleep.

Cracked Tooth

A tooth that is cracked or broken can cause tooth sensitivity, especially if the crack extends down into the root. This type of sensitivity is usually a sharp, quick pain that happens when you clench your teeth or chew something tough or hard. If you’re experiencing this type of sensitivity, go ahead and schedule an appointment to get it checked out as soon as possible. This way if the tooth is in fact cracked, your dentist can treat it quickly and help you avoid the possibility of infection.

Teeth Whitening

Some people experience tooth sensitivity after they whiten their teeth. That is because some whitening solutions penetrate deep into the enamel layer during the whitening process. This type of sensitivity is only temporary, though, and eventually fades without intervention within a few weeks.

How can I prevent tooth sensitivity?

A proper oral health routine is paramount to keeping your teeth healthy and can help prevent tooth sensitivity. In fact, one of the best things you can do as someone with sensitive teeth is be sure to brush properly at least twice a day. That means using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for two minutes each time. Look for the American Dental Association, or ADA, seal of acceptance on dental products before purchasing, as that means they meet ADA’s recommendations.

When brushing, use gentle strokes, taking the time to brush each tooth on all sides before moving to the next. Brushing forcefully (or softly but with a hard-bristled brush) or using abrasive toothpaste can actually wear down the enamel and cause sensitivity.

Another step you can take to prevent tooth sensitivity is to avoid highly acidic foods and drinks, including carbonated drinks, wine, coffee, and citrus fruits. Foods and drinks that are high in acid can cause erosion, dissolving the tooth enamel over time. That’s why it’s a good idea to at least swish with water afterward to help restore your oral pH faster if you do choose to eat or drink these kinds of items.

Can I still enjoy ice cream?

If you find your teeth are sensitive when you eat ice cream, it could be from any of the reasons listed above. But does that mean you have to avoid it entirely? If you find that your teeth are reacting to temperature fluctuations, pressure, or air, make an appointment to see your Wasilla dentist so they can determine the root cause of your tooth sensitivity and tailor a treatment plan to address it. 

There are also steps you can take to prevent sensitivity from worsening, like eating sugar-free or low-sugar ice cream or gelato varieties, and rinsing your mouth out with water afterward. This will help rid your mouth of the extra sugars, which adhere to teeth and feed harmful bacteria that love to eat away at the enamel.

How can I fix my tooth sensitivity?

If you are frequently bothered by tooth sensitivity, especially when you are not eating or drinking, it’s time to talk to us at Valley Dental Clinic to find a solution. Our dental team may recommend trying:

Desensitizing Toothpaste

When used properly, a desensitizing toothpaste can often help block the pain of sensitive teeth. Essentially, most of these products work by forming a layer over any exposed dentin tubules to keep pain signals from reaching the tooth nerve. There are lots of over-the-counter products available, but you can also ask our team for recommendations.

Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride strengthens the enamel on your teeth, so if you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, your dentist may recommend a fluoride treatment to help reinforce the enamel. Fluoride treatments are usually in-office topical applications that only take a few minutes. But there are also at-home alternatives like prescription-strength fluoride toothpastes and rinses.

Grafting or Bonding

If you have exposed tooth roots, your dentist may recommend gum grafting or dental bonding, depending on the cause and severity, to re-cover the sensitive root surfaces. If you’ve tried everything and are still experiencing extreme sensitivity, a root canal could be a last resort.

Visit Valley Dental Clinic.

Tooth sensitivity can impact your day-to-day life, but it doesn’t have to be something that you battle on your own or have to deal with forever. With the help of our skilled team of dental professionals, you can get back to eating your favorite foods without worry. So if you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, especially if it has come on suddenly, schedule an appointment with the team at Valley Dental Clinic today!