Teeth cold sensitive is a prevalent issue in adults.  It’s also normal for teeth sensitivity to cold to occur more often in the winter due to the colder air and temperature.  While over 50 percent of adults have reported teeth sensitive from cold, it’s an issue that can often be treated with either an anti sensitivity toothpaste or dental treatment, depending on the cause.


Teeth sensitivity tend to stem from the base of the tooth near the gumline.  More often the part of the tooth near the gumline exposes an inner layer due to physical wear of the outer enamel layer.  Sometime this exposed layer can feel like a small divet on the root surface.

Other causes of sensitivity to cold can be an exposed root surface (gingival recession), cavity, or lost or defective filling or crown.  Many times teeth sensitivity from cold tend to result from exposed root surface.


Teeth are composed of three layers: enamel (which is the outer surface of the tooth one usually sees), dentin which is a softer layer inside the enamel, and a living soft tissue called the pulp.  The tooth’s root, however, does not have enamel but rather cementum at the outer surface.  Normally the cementum layer is protected by gum tissue.  If the gum tissue becomes “lower” this will expose the cementum layer of the root.  Cementum is typically very sensitive to touch and cold.

Roots can be exposed by excessive and/or prolonged brushing greater than 2 minutes, repeated exposure to acid, and grinding/clenching.  In rare cases orthodontic treatment where rapid tooth movement may also cause root exposure.


Your family dentist and hygienist can examine your dentition and recommend the best treatment for you.  Depending on the severity of condition, at home treatment is usually first recommended:

  • Antisensitivity toothpaste (ie. Sensodyne, Colgate Sensitive, or Fluoridex)
  • Home fluoride treatment like over the counter fluoride rinses (ie. ACT)
  • Changes in diet to include decrease consumption of acidic foods and drinks

In office treatment can include:

  • Gingival grafting to increase the gum height
  • In office application of fluoride varnish
  • Bonded restorations to restore the exposed worn root surface
  • Endodontic (root canal) treatment

So what can you do at home to help prevent teeth cold sensitive?  Make sure you brush twice a day for 2 minutes.  Some electric toothbrushes have a timer to help.  Use a soft bristle toothbrush and brush gently without excessive pressure.  Floss once a day to remove plaque along the gum line.  And consume a diet low in acidic drinks and foods; if possible, swish your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and drinks.

If you have any questions regarding teeth sensitivity to cold, be sure to consult your family dentist.

Warm Regards,
Peter Chien, DMD, MPH
(425) 614-1600