How the Weather Can Affect Oral Health

Don’t you hate that feeling when your dentist scrapes along your teeth and gum line using his metal scraper? Once he hits a tender spot you just want to scream. That unpleasing feeling is known as a ‘zing’. You can also experience a zing when your teeth are exposed to the chilly outdoor air. Although your teeth are hard and sturdy, that doesn’t mean they’re not vulnerable to extreme temperatures. By nature, teeth are sensitive and porous. But, healthy teeth and gums should ideally be able to handle the bitter cold with very little irritation. Your teeth are naturally accustomed to the temperature of your body. Therefore, when you eat or drink something that’s very cold or hot, they can feel mildly irritated or even cause a great deal of pain.

Things that Irritate Your Teeth

Hot or cold liquids and certain substances can affect your teeth along with other things as well. Breathing in crisp, cold air through your mouth can make your teeth actually contract and come in contact with sensitive areas in your mouth, particularly along your gums. Once your teeth contract from cold air exposure, they’ll expand once you close your mouth. Over time, the contractions and expansions may cause tiny, hairline cracks within your teeth that most people aren’t even aware of. However, once the temperature drops to a certain point you’ll know for sure if you have them because you’ll feel them in the form of pain.

Many times you’ll see young children playing outside in the cold trying to keep warm by tensing up and clenching their jaw. This can cause both the teeth and jaw to erode over time and can cause considerable tooth and/or jaw pain as well.

How to Prevent Tooth Pain in the Cold Air

The easiest way to prevent your teeth from hurting when you’re outside in the cold winter air is to simply breathe through the nose rather than your mouth as much as you can. Cold air has the ability to make your teeth hurt even if you’re just outside for a few minutes. But, when you close your mouth while you’re outside and use your lips to cover your teeth, your saliva will start circulating again and eventually your pain will dissipate. If, however, the dull ache or cold sensation remains longer than a couple of days, it’s likely that your teeth are hurting for another reason other than just cold air exposure.

If you or your child’s teeth are reacting to the cold air much harder than usual, there could be a more serious underlying issue that the colder weather is revealing. Some of these issues may include a number of things such as cavities, cracked teeth, teeth grinding or clenching, bite issues, periodontal disease, receding gums from over-brushing, eroded bridges or crowns, or older fillings that no longer fit.

Sensitive Teeth and Exposed Roots

If you have exposed roots, then you know how sensitive they can be to cold liquids and air. Dental roots are often exposed if you’re regularly brushing too hard or when your gums start to recede. The zings you feel due to exposed roots can be very painful as well as long-lasting.

How to Reduce Tooth Sensitivities

Fighting cold-sensitive teeth is as easy as making good oral hygiene a regular part of your lifestyle. It’s crucial to have dental check-ups every 6 months for best results. Because most insurance companies cover the cost, there’s no excuse to miss a visit. Also, several toothpaste brands have tooth-sensitive alternatives that are specially designed to address tooth sensitivity over time.

Other ways to help reduce the sensitivity of you and your children’s teeth is to use a fluoride mouthwash at least once a day. Mouthwash helps create a protective barrier over the more sensitive areas in your mouth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently brush your teeth rather than too hard. Your enamel will thank you.

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Kids Dental Specialists proudly serves families in the Chino/Chino Hills, CA area. Visit our Appointment page or call us at 909-591-0077 to schedule your next appointment.

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