Don't Scream Over Ice Cream


The ODA has tips for sensitive teeth

July 23, 2010

Colour PDF (109KB)

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Dental Association (ODA) wants to protect your sensitive teeth this summer.  Ice cream headaches and tooth pain from cold treats can put a chill on summer fun.

 “An ice cream headache, though momentarily painful, is a harmless condition that lasts about 30 seconds to a minute, “ says Dr. Lynn Tomkins, President of the ODA. “While ice cream headaches should not incite worry, a real concern is tooth sensitivity, sometimes making eating an unpleasant experience.”

Tooth sensitivity can occur from consuming cold food and liquids and breathing cold air. Tooth sensitivity often occurs because the gums start to recede and tooth roots are exposed.

In order to protect gums and teeth from sensitivity, the ODA recommends the following measures:

  • Apply gentle pressure when brushing teeth.  Too much pressure over time from tooth brushing can cause significant gum recession and wearing down of the teeth.
  • Take two to three minutes to properly brush all tooth surfaces. 
  • Make sure you floss. Flossing reaches 35 percent of tooth surfaces where brushing cannot reach.
  • Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Over time, this will help to reduce sensitive tooth nerves.
  • Use a fluoride mouthwash, which can help to reduce tooth sensitivity.
  • Cut down on acidic foods.  Foods such as citrus, pop, and tea can increase sensitivity and work against sensitivity toothpaste.

“If these measures don’t relieve the pain, you may be experiencing signs of deeper decay,” says Dr. Tomkins. “If you’re experiencing pain, it’s important to go see a dentist who will do a full exam, and give you a diagnosis and treatment plan.”

For more information about tooth decay and other oral health conditions, visit:



Nicole Helsberg
Public Affairs and Communications
Ontario Dental Association
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