The last thing you expect when drinking a cold glass of water is for one of your teeth to feel like you have just placed a live electrical wire against it. However, it is fairly likely that anything cold, not just cold water will have the same effect. When your teeth become sensitive to cold, the cause of the pain could be due to any number of dental issues.

When you feel a sharp stab of pain after drinking cold water or eating a spoon of ice-cream, you should always seek to discover the root cause of the problem. Don't simply hope that it might go away. Doing so may mean that you inadvertently ignore a soon-to-be serious dental problem.

The Cause of Dentinal Hypersensitivity

A healthy tooth protects the nerve inside it from extrinsic elements such as temperature fluctuations, bacteria and acids contained in foods. The hard outer layer of enamel encases the softer layer of dentin, which contains thousands of tubules leading to the nerve in the centre of the tooth. Gums also form a protective layer over the roots of teeth, which are composed of cementum and dentin. If your teeth hurt when exposed to cold or sugary foods, it means that either your enamel or your gums are not doing their jobs as they should.

The question is why? There are a number of reasons for this:

Gum Recession

If your gums recede, the dentin underneath becomes exposed. Cold temperatures will then penetrate the tiny tubules within the layer of dentin and reach the nerve in the centre, causing a jolt of pain. Gum recession is caused by brushing your teeth too vigorously, or with the wrong technique. It may also be caused by gum disease and trauma.

Whatever the cause, receded gums do not grow back, and so you must visit your dentist as soon as possible before the exposed dentin falls prey to tooth decay.

Enamel Erosion

Though enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it is not impervious to wear and tear. Constantly drinking acidic beverages such as soda erode enamel, exposing the dentin underneath. Again, brushing too hard also removes enamel, as does the overuse of whitening products which contain harsh chemicals.

Cracks and Fractures

When a single tooth responds to cold in this way, it may be chipped or cracked. Further evidence of this may be revealed in pain experienced when biting down. This is a serious issue that needs urgent treatment. Otherwise, bacteria may quickly enter the tooth leading to pulpitis and the need for a root canal.

Finally, whitening toothpastes may also be to blame for the pain experienced when drinking cold water as they contain chemicals designed to remove stains. Whatever you suspect the cause to be, your first action should be to book a dental appointment as soon as possible. Not doing so could mean the loss of a tooth and subsequent costly dental procedures.

Contact a dentist that offers root canal therapy for more information and assistance.