If your teeth become over-sensitive in the winter cold, it could be a sign of an underlying issue. Although teeth are sensitive by nature, they should be able to withstand winter weather with little or no discomfort.
If you get tooth pain for more than a few days during a cold snap, your dental health may be compromised in some way. Cold weather can highlight problems such as periodontal (gum) disease and cavities.
The early stage of periodontitis (gingivitis) may not be noticeable – until cold weather strikes. If your gums begin to recede through inflammation, the nerve-packed dentin underneath becomes exposed and sensitive to cold air.
Tooth over-sensitivity to the cold can also be an indication of an undetected cavity, when the enamel surface of a tooth has eroded, exposing the dentin it should be protecting.
Protecting Your Tooth Enamel
When cold air reaches your teeth, they tend to contract. Once the temperature inside your mouth rises, the teeth will expand. These contractions and expansions can lead to tiny cracks in the enamel.
Enamel forms a barrier that protects dentin from harmful bacteria and prevents over-sensitivity of your teeth. When enamel wears away, it cannot be regenerated because it contains no living cells. However, weakened enamel can be strengthened by remineralization, which can be achieved through good oral hygiene.
Regular check-ups by your dentist or dental hygienist will help to keep your enamel operating efficiently by spotting any demineralization before it become a serious problem. Preventative dental care measures to help keep your tooth enamel healthy include professional cleaning, sealants and fluoride treatments.
To minimise the risk of enamel loss, brush for at least two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to remove food particles your toothbrush cannot reach.
How to Ease Cold-Weather Teeth Sensitivity
If your teeth do get particularly sensitive in the winter, it’s not always a warning sign of serious problems. It may simply be that the cold is affecting your teeth in the same way that cold foods or drinks can cause sensitivity.
Teeth are used to functioning at normal body temperature. When they encounter particularly cold air, it may result in irritation. In these cases, you can take measures to minimize the discomfort by:
- Breathing through your nose, rather than your mouth.
- Avoiding clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth.
- Brushing and flossing regularly.
- Using a fluoride toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth and gums.
- Getting regular dental exams and professional cleanings.
Need Expert Help?
If your tooth sensitivity lasts for more than a few days, there may be an underlying issue with your teeth, and it’s advisable to see your dentist as soon as possible.
Besides gum problems and tooth decay, over-sensitivity of teeth in cold weather can be a sign of fillings that no longer fit properly, crowns that have eroded, or bite issues such as teeth grinding.
If you suspect there’s an underlying problem to your tooth sensitivity during cold weather, schedule an appointment with Sherwood Dental, your Kitchener and Waterloo dentist.