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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Cold Sensitivity Following Procedure

09/09/2010

Question:

I recently (~1.5 weeks ago) had a significant amount of dental work performed, including an upper molar extraction and significant filling on the tooth immediately adjacent to it. Prior to the work, I had minor sensitivity to sweet foods and extreme temperatures. After the procedure, the sensitivity to sweet food has been eliminated, but the sensitivity to temperatures has greatly increased. While hot items do not cause any significant level of discomfort, cold items induce a prolonged and relatively sharp and strong pain in the area. It is difficult to determine exactly which tooth the pain is coming from, as it seems to radiate throughout the area. The use of an NSAID, such as Advil, greatly reduces and at times eliminates the problem.

Is this a normal occurrence? Can I expect the issue to improve over time? Are there any steps I can take to help eliminate this situation? Any help is appreciated.

Answer:

Hopefully, your cold sensitivity will gradually decrease over a period of weeks. Try to brush and floss regularly despite sensitivity and consider using a desensitizing tooth paste (Sensodyne, Promise, Denquel, Crest Sensitive).

Desensitizer toothpastes may take two weeks to have an effect and you may need to continue using them indefinitely.

That fact that Advil helps is a good sign. Hopefully, when you described the cold response as "prolonged" you still meant less than 10-15 seconds. Hopefully, your sensitivity is also improving and not getting worse. If it does worsen, you might need a root canal or other treatment.

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Response by:

David Lee Hall, DDS David Lee Hall, DDS
Clinical Associate Professor of Primary Care
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University