‘Tis the season for cold weather, and your teeth are sensitive. This happens to many people in winter, but what is the cause? Do cold temperatures affect your teeth? Yes, they can! If you want to know more about cold weather and tooth sensitivity, here is what we want you to know.
Cold Weather and Tooth Sensitivity
Your teeth can be sensitive to cold weather because when the temperature outside is low, your teeth are exposed to the cold air for a longer period of time.
If you suffer from tooth sensitivity in cold weather, you’re not alone. 4 out of 10 people live with tooth sensitivity due to exposed dentin, pain that can be triggered when cold weather comes along.
Cold air causes the enamel on your teeth to shrink, and when it shrinks, it exposes the dentin underneath. The dentin is a softer part of your tooth that contains nerve endings. This makes your teeth more sensitive to temperature changes, like cold weather.
Cold Weather and Crowns
Another problem with cold weather is that it can make your crowns more brittle. If you have had a dental restoration placed in your mouth, then the enamel on your teeth may have been removed to place it. This means that the restoration makes up for what was lost in the area where it was placed. When this area is exposed to cold air, your crown will shrink because it is made from porcelain. When this happens, the area around the crown may become sensitive.
The third problem many people experience when they leave their homes in winter is that they feel like their teeth are trembling or vibrating. This sensation is usually felt when the weather is windy, which causes your teeth to chatter. You may also feel like your teeth are trembling even if it is not windy out; this happens because the freezing cold temperatures make your nerve endings more sensitive.
Follow the three steps listed below to keep cold-weather tooth pain away.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR ENAMEL
Your tooth has a protective outer coating called enamel. Part of the enamel’s job is to offer a barrier between very cold (or hot) substances and the sensitive inner part of teeth.
In some people, the enamel doesn’t do its job properly. People with this condition will feel discomfort when they drink very cold liquids or eat ice cream. They may also feel pain when drinking hot chocolate or hot tea. Outdoors, people with inadequate enamel may feel every gust of cold air rush over their teeth in a very uncomfortable way.
If your enamel needs a boost to give it an edge against extreme temperatures, use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth before going outside. Your dentist can recommend a reliable brand. Wait 30 minutes or so before going outside, and try not to eat or drink anything that will rub away the protective coating left by the toothpaste.
In addition, protect your enamel by using a soft-bristled toothbrush and brushing in a gentle, circular motion. Stop using tooth-bleaching products and whitening toothpastes unless advised otherwise by your dentist. Tooth-whitening products can wear down enamel and increase tooth sensitivity.
Here are some other ways to protect your enamel:
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks
- Don’t chew ice or abrasive foods
- Apply prescribed fluoride or desensitizing treatments
- Brush and floss every day
- Have teeth sealed by your dentist
Also, if you clench your teeth when awake or asleep, the pressure will wear down your teeth over time. Clenching the teeth can lead to many issues in the jaw and mouth, not the least of which is increased enamel wearing. Your dentist can fit you for an anti-clenching device to help you stop tooth-grinding.
PAY ATTENTION TO ACUTE PAIN
If you normally don’t have sensitive teeth but suddenly feel sharp pangs in a tooth when you go outside into a cold environment, the intense pain is normally a sign of a problem. There are a variety of causes for sharp tooth pain when outdoors, although some have nothing to do with teeth at all.
For example, if you have inflamed sinuses, the pressure can make your teeth ache when you’re inside and outside. An ear infection or jawbone condition can create pain that seems to be coming from your teeth. Gum disease is also a reason why some people develop sensitive teeth. Cold temperatures may increase the pain caused by ear, gum or jaw problems.
If you have a crack, cavity or other entry point into a tooth, cold air can cause intense pain at the site of the tooth break or cavity. If a filling falls out, or the root of a tooth is exposed, cold air can cause extreme pain in the affected tooth.
The cold may also affect you due to a recent dental procedure that needs more time to heal. Whether it’s caused by post-dental-procedure sensitivity, an injury, tooth decay or a crack in a tooth, acute tooth pain in cold weather demands a visit to the experts for a complete examination. Your dentist can fill, extract or repair the tooth that’s causing you pain when temperatures fall. Then, you can enjoy the great outdoors again.
KEEP YOUR MOUTH WARM WHEN OUTDOORS
Preventing and treating cavities, cracks and gum disease are some of the steps you can take to decrease the chances you’ll feel autumn- and winter-related tooth pain. Caring for your enamel is another great step in the right direction. But you can still have sensitive and painful teeth in cold weather after you’ve done all of these things.
One suggestion is to breathe through your nose as much as possible when outdoors. Your cheeks and lips insulate your teeth as long as your mouth is closed. The air you breathe through your nose will be warmer by the time it reaches your teeth, so reactions to the cold may be lessened.
If you’re sitting on bleachers in a brisk wind, a scarf lightly wrapped around the mouth can warm the air before it contacts the surface of your teeth. Cup your hands around your mouth and nose to create a warming zone you can inhale from with each breath. A hot cup of tea or cocoa with steam you can inhale may also help in an outdoor location. Just try not to drink very hot liquids outside, as the extreme temperature may increase your teeth’s sensitivity to cold.
When to See a Dentist
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity when it is cold outside, it is important to see a dentist. The symptoms of tooth sensitivity can worsen over time and may lead to pain when eating and drinking. It is also important to seek treatment if you are experiencing any other symptoms, such as:
– A throbbing sensation in your teeth
– Tooth pain on cold, windy days
– A tingling sensation in your teeth
– The feeling that something is caught in your tooth
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend that you make an appointment today.
Make an Appointment with the Havrilla Center for Periodontics & Dental Implants
Conveniently located in Broomall, Pennsylvania, the Havrilla Center for Periodontics & Dental Implants is here for you all year long, not just when the weather is cold. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity this winter, don’t hold off on making an appointment. Call us today at 610.328.9608 for an appointment to come speak with Dr. Havrilla and learn more about how you can get a pain-free smile this winter.