The idea of tooth pain from cold just being part of your make up is incorrect, whilst our knowledge on the real cause has recently increased.
The primary reason for pain from cold is erosion of the enamel protecting the dentin below. This is caused by dental caries, an unwanted biofilm on the tooth’s surface, in combination with eating, or drinking acidity creating sugars.
Surfaces are eroded, cavities form, exposing the dentin. Cold food, or drink can then produce an unpleasant, often jolting sensation.
The pain is perceived as a reaction from a nerve within the tooth, although the process has not historically been well understood. Research carried out in Germany in 2021 looks to have broadened our knowledge.
The Core Discoveries
Odontoblasts are cells which form part of the dental pulp’s outer surface, below the dentin and are part of dentinogenesis, the formation of dentin. The research found that odontoblasts play a significant role in dental pain from cold.
Equipping them with a molecule called TRPC5 expands their function, making them integral to our dental cold sensing system. They also note that on existing areas with erosion, or dental caries, an increased level of TRPC5 was found.
Alongside other observations, they concluded that the transmission of cold sensation in teeth requires odontoblasts. Also that together with other molecules, the TRPC5 protein is an essential part of making this happen.
Potential For Benefit
As the lead investigator stated “Once you have a molecule to target, there is a possibility of treatment.” This could be incorporated into toothpastes, chewing gum, or varying forms of dental patches.
Temporary relief from tooth pain is always welcome and ancient remedies can help, clove oil has been found to block the TRPC5 pathway. What the researchers pointed out is that a need to address the underlying cause still remains.
They stressed the importance of seeing a dentist and of good quality hygiene care. Treating the cause and preventing more issues gradually appearing requires the removal of dental decay and sound restorative work.
Their discovery of the process is interesting and could lead to reducing pain from cold drinks, or food but we tend to agree with their wider findings. Dental treatment tailored to each patient’s needs is the longer term cure.