Although dental implants look like natural teeth and work in a similar way, there are some notable differences between implants and real teeth. For instance, in regards to sensations like hot and cold, dental implants and natural teeth respond differently. While natural teeth do respond to temperature changes, dental implants do not.
On a cold morning then, while a deep breath might send a zap of sensitivity through a natural tooth, a fully integrated dental implant would receive no sensation at all.
Natural Teeth Have Roots, Dental Implants Do Not
Natural teeth respond to sensation because they connect to the trigeminal nerve via their roots. As a result, whenever your mouth experiences sudden and steep changes in temperature in either direction, the sensation travels through the root and on to the brain via the trigeminal nerve.
Dental implants, on the other hand, do not connect to the trigeminal nerve at all. Dental implants do not require a connection to the trigeminal nerve in order to function. Once a prosthodontist places a dental implant post in your jaw the bone, cells in that area will multiply and grow around the implant, fixing it in place. As a result, there should be no sensitivity to cold or heat at all.
But what happens if you do experience cold or heat sensitivity with a dental implant? What could be to blame?
The Neighbouring Teeth Could Be Causing the Pain
Sometimes, the sensitivity near a dental implant originates from the surrounding teeth, not the implant itself. This could be due to bone resorption in the area that has spread to the neighbouring teeth. Although the bone around well-placed dental implants does increase in volume over time, there may still be some bone recession around the neighbouring teeth.
And, because these teeth are still connected to their nerves, they will be sensitive, which can cause the whole area to hurt. You should see your dentist and consider bone grafting if the condition does not improve. Gum disease might also be causing the sensitivity. In general, tartar causes gum disease when it builds up around the roots of teeth and spreads to the pockets under the gum tissue.
If gum disease spreads from neighbouring teeth to the area around your dental implant, it will cause sensitivity, as well as swelling and redness. This is a serious problem because gum disease can cause dental implants to fail if not treated quickly.
Dental implants do not respond to temperature changes. However, if you are experiencing sensitivity around your implant when drinking hot or cold drinks, see your dentist. The lifespan of your dental implant could depend on it.