You walk out into the cold winter air and take a deep breath. Suddenly your teeth hurt and you are not sure why. A lot of people tend to lump in toothaches and tooth sensitivity together and while both produce painful results, they are entirely different beasts. But both indicate a trip to the dentist is in order. Let’s break these two different causes of tooth pain down and get to the meat of the issue.

Tooth Sensitivity

That little scenario that I played out at the beginning was actually pretty typical of someone who is dealing with tooth sensitivity. Generally tooth sensitivity means that large changes in temperature, either hot or cold, can cause sensations of pain in your teeth. Typically sensitive teeth occur when the insulation of your teeth, the enamel, is damaged. This can occur when your gums pull back and expose the roots of your teeth, which are made of cementum, which is not sturdy enough to be exposed. When your enamel is damaged, it exposes dentin which contain a myriad of tiny tubes that lead right into the nerve center of the tooth which is called the pulp. When dentin  or cementum is exposed, any big fluctuations in temperature are felt right at the core of the tooth and cause lots of pain.

Close up of a young woman with a toothache

Tooth sensitivity can come from benign factors such as age (if you are 25-30 sensitive teeth are pretty common), or simply going to the dentist (which should go away after 4-6 weeks). With that being said, gum disease, tooth damage, or tooth decay could also cause tooth sensitivity, so it is important to consult a dentist if the problem persists.


Toothaches, on the other hand, are pains in the mouth that can be sharp, throbbing, or consistent, or may not be painful at all until pressure is applied to the tooth. The most important distinction here is that the pain is independent of fluctuations in temperature. Toothache commonly stems from infected gums, a fractured tooth, an abscessed tooth, tooth decay, or a damaged filling. If the toothache is a result of an infection, then you may also notice a fever or foul tasting drainage leaking out from the infected tooth. If you are experiencing toothache that lasts longer than a day then it is important to seek a dentist right away as tooth infections can potentially be lethal.

See a Dentist!

In both situations (ache and sensitivity) it is important to seek a licensed dentist if the pain is persistent. Regular preventative dentistry can help you avoid most of these issues, and because tooth whitening can cause teeth sensitivity, it is important to only trust a dentist with whitening. If you have any concerns about toothache or sensitivity please call Michael L. Weinstock, DDS in Altamonte Springs at 407-834-6446 to schedule an appointment today.