Thursday, January 19, 2017

Did Flossing Make My Teeth Sensitive to Hot & Cold?

Dr. Chip Tartaroff got this question from Bernice, who lives in Canada:

Hi - Could you please help me? Prior to 3 months ago, I was an occasional flosser. For the last 3 months, I've been flossing every night and want to continue the habit. Eventually, it has become easier to get the floss between my teeth & gums, which I attributed to my consistent flossing, however, my teeth have become sensitive to cold & hot temperatures. I now believe that my gums have receded some, thereby exposing some of the roots, which is causing this sensitivity. My gums don't bleed, aren't sensitive or discoloured. I've been using Sensodyne for about a month now, which has reduced the sensitivity by about 50%, but it's becoming frustrating. Is it possible that I'm flossing too deep? Can you give me any helpful advice? Thank you so much for your help and consideration. I appreciate it! - Bernice.

Sharing the question with Dr. Jay W. Friedman, clinical dentist, educator, and friend of the NFC, Dr. Friedman wrote this detailed and helpful reply.

Dr. T. forwarded your query and suggested I might reply.

First, if you think your new flossing regimen has caused the sensitivity of your teeth, you should go back to your previous behavior and see if the sensitivity reduces. If so, then have the cause and the solution.

Second, it would be unusual and unlikely that flossing, unless really excessive and forceful, was the cause of the sensitivity. It might be coincidental. But if you are "sawing" rapidly and vigorously with the floss between the teeth, it could cause some sensitivity.

Third, if your gums receded due to the flossing, it would be indicative of their being swollen and inflamed, in which case they would likely have bled easily. You say they don't bleed, aren't sensitive and discolored, suggesting that they were not previously inflamed and that you have just noticed some recession that was there before but unnoticed.

Fourth, when was the last time you had a dental examination and a prophylaxis? If not within a year, you should consider it - and demonstrate your flossing technique to the dentist and/dental hygienist to see if it's excessive.

Fifth, avoid hot and cold temperatures that cause you irritation.

Sixth, moderation in all things is the 6th most sensible thing to do. I don't recall what the other five are.

Good luck and best wishes,

Jay W. Friedman, DDS, MPH

There is little that can be said to improve on Jay Friedman's reply.
We hope you find this helpful, Bernice, and please let us know how things work out for you!
Floss on!
Dr. T


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