Winter and Sensitive Teeth
While you can often avoid eating particularly hot foods or drinking icy beverages, you can’t always escape seasonal temperatures. Find out how the cold weather can affect your teeth and what you can do to decrease the pain this winter.
Tooth Sensitivity Causes
If you struggle with sensitive teeth, you’re not alone. In fact, about 40 million American adults deal with teeth sensitivity.
While the nature of this condition can vary from person to person, the cause is almost always exposed nerve endings. This exposure arises when the dentin, the interior part of your teeth, loses its protective enamel covering. Although enamel is hard and durable, several factors can lead to erosion and eventual loss of enamel.
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is an important part of your daily oral care routine, but the way you brush can also have a big impact. Using a toothbrush that’s too rigid, for example, can put unnecessary pressure on your teeth and compromise your enamel. Along the same lines, brushing too forcefully can actually wear away the enamel and leave the dentin exposed.
Regular brushing and flossing can prevent tooth decay, but this daily routine isn’t always enough. Plaque, a film composed of bacteria from your mouth and sugars from the food you eat, constantly forms on your teeth. If you don’t remove the plaque effectively, it can harden into tartar and contribute to tooth decay, further exposing the dentin.
Tartar buildup can make brushing difficult, since this hard substance can block access to your teeth and gums. Over time, your gums can become inflamed and infected, eventually receding and pulling away from your teeth. Newly exposed root areas can easily become hypersensitive to extreme temperatures.
Grinding your teeth at night can cause tooth pain, headaches, and other problems. The friction from tooth grinding can wear away your enamel, and the pressure can cause cracks that might later attract bacteria and infections. Pain and sensitivity can result from tooth decay and enamel loss.
How to Handle Winter Temperatures
Whether you love winter or you can’t wait for summer to return, cold temperatures can be tough for your teeth to handle. If you’re suffering from issues with sensitive teeth, try the following solutions:
During the winter months, inhaling deeply can cause a wave of frigid air to hit your teeth. If you breathe through your mouth, the cold blast can lead to serious pain. Avoid the cold shock by breathing through your nose.
When you take part in fun wintertime activities such as sledding or cold weather chores like shoveling, inhaling through your nose isn’t always practical. If you find you’re breathing through your mouth, bundle up with a scarf and filter the cold air through that extra layer.
Drink Warm Beverages
From hot cocoa to a cup of tea, warm beverages can work wonders for keeping you warm. If you plan to spend significant time outdoors, keep a thermos of your favorite hot beverage on hand and take frequent drinks to cut the chill.
How to Keep Sensitive Teeth Healthy
In addition to keeping your teeth warm when the temperature drops, you can also take steps to keep your teeth healthy. To reduce sensitivity and keep your teeth looking great, take the following steps:
Use a Special Toothpaste
Don’t let tooth sensitivity get in the way of your twice-daily brushing routine. Many over-the-counter toothpastes are formulated specially for sensitive teeth and can make brushing much more comfortable.
Have a Professional Cleaning
Only a professional cleaning can remove tartar, so find a dental provider and schedule regular cleaning sessions. Your dentist can also recognize early signs of gum disease and help you correct minor problems before they escalate.
Fix Dental Flaws
Tooth decay, cavities, and cracks don’t go away on their own. If your tooth sensitivity results from a deeper issue, talk with your dentist about caps, crowns, and other ways to correct your dental flaws.
Get a Mouth Guard
If you grind your teeth at night, stopping can be difficult without help. Ask your dentist about getting a mouth guard to prevent you from grinding your teeth while you sleep. This device can also help reduce the risk of larger sensitivity issues in the future.
Sensitive teeth can be particularly painful during the winter months. Whether you’re seeking immediate relief or a long-term solution, put the above tips to work for you in helping to lessen the pain.
Image via Flickr by torremountain
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