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This Is Why Cold Weather Can Hurt Your Teeth

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Did you know 1 in 8 people have tooth sensitivity?

Many people notice more tooth discomfort in the cold winter months than the warmer spring and summer seasons. The cold temperatures and chilly, windy air of wintertime are here to stay for a few more months and could be to blame for some of this stinging and zinging pain.

But why? Read on as we explore some of the factors involved in this cold weather phenomenon (1).

Taking a Closer Look at Cold Weather

Your teeth are very sensitive to temperature, and can vary up to 120 degrees when exposed to different hot or cold environments as well as hot or cold foods and beverages. Like most material, teeth actually expand and contract slightly as they change temperature.

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Teeth contract with exposure to cold temperature, and then expand as they warm back to body temperature. Your teeth are able to adapt to some extent, but tiny cracks and fissures can form over time due to the stress of this movement. The cracks shouldn’t affect the integrity of your teeth, but they can cause a lot of discomfort when cold air or liquid comes into contact!

Amalgam fillings (those made of mixed metal) will actually expand and contract more rapidly than the natural bone of teeth, meaning teeth with metal fillings could hurt even more than other teeth in the bitter, cold weather (1, 2).

Exposed Layers

The enamel is the outer, protective layer of your teeth. If the enamel has started to wear away, the next layer – the dentin – becomes exposed. Dentin is very sensitive due to the nerve endings found in this layer. This layer of the tooth can sense extreme changes in temperature more readily, and will create nerve irritation without the full shelter of the enamel that is typically covering it.

Dentin exposure can be caused from the tiny cracks mentioned above, damage to the tooth, long term wear and tear from rough brushing, home whitening kits, or even highly acidic foods (1, 2).

Root exposure will also cause abrupt pain when this part of the tooth comes in contact with cold air or liquid. The root of the tooth can become exposed by brushing too hard or with cross friction. They can also become exposed due to gum recession from grinding or gum disease. Dr. Hagen can help with determining the cause of gum recession, as well as give tips on proper brushing motions (3).

Jaw Tension

It’s not uncommon to unconsciously clench your jaw in colder weather. Some people have a tendency to tighten up their muscles (often the arms, shoulders, jaws, etc.) in an attempt to keep warm. This can put unnecessary and painful pressure on your jaw and the teeth (1).

Sinus Pressure

Seasonal allergies and sinus issues can show up during cold months. Sinus infections, fluid backup and pressure in the sinuses will often cause tooth pain because of their proximity to the oral cavity and teeth. Many people will mistake this feeling as tooth pain when it is really the referral from nearby tissues. Figuring out the cause of the sinus issue will help alleviate the oral pain in this case (1).

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What to Do About Sensitivity or Pain

Tips for reducing cold weather tooth pain start with protection and prevention. Try breathing through your nose instead of your mouth, or wearing a scarf or mask over your mouth while you’re out in the elements (4).

Good oral hygiene habits are of upmost importance when it comes to preventing sensitive teeth and other painful tooth difficulties. Be sure to brush and floss regularly to reduce your risk of decay or infection.

Hagen Dental is your resource for figuring out the cause of your tooth pain. We can perform an examination and do x-rays, if needed, to discover the issue. Switching to sensitive toothpaste can often help ease the discomfort. Other times, we may recommend painting a protective varnish on any teeth that show wear and tear of the enamel and are particularly sensitive.

Though many times the pain can be an easy fix, it is extremely important to get checked. Pain, whether temperature related or not, can signal more serious underlying issues with the health of your teeth and mouth. Tooth pain can be caused from defective fillings, recessed gums, tooth grinding, infection, cavities and other problems. Often times, the cold will just exacerbate the pain that was actually caused by one of those issues.

We want to catch cavities, infection, damage, or other disease sooner than later in order to keep you healthy. Let us know if you have any pain, discomfort or other issues so that we can help!

Schedule An Appointment with Hagen Dental Practice

We are excited to meet you and your family. Please call (513) 251-5500 or click the Online Scheduling button on our website to schedule your next visit!  Or, give us a call at (513) 251-5500 today!.

Sources:

  1. http://thedentistsofficefallon.com/burr-is-cold-weather-making-your-teeth-hurt/
  2. https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/tooth-sensitivity-in-cold-weather.html
  3. http://www.familycedarrapidsdentist.com/cold-weather-effects-your-teeth
  4. https://www.carefreedental.com/resources/24-your-teeth/58-how-does-the-winter-affect-your-teeth