Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Taking Care of Your Teeth in Cold Weather

It’s no secret that frigid temps can wreak havoc on our skin and joints, but they can also impact our teeth. Those who live in extremely cold climates may be all too familiar with how cold weather can cause the teeth to ache and feel sensitive. Although healthy teeth are hard, they are also porous which makes them sensitive to major changes in the air temperature.

The effect is similar to what we encounter when eating or drinking something that is unusually cold. The sensation can be slightly irritating or quite painful and even gravitate throughout the gum line, jaw and sinus cavities. Even when we simply breathe in very cold air, the teeth can actually contract. When you feel this discomfort, especially along the gum line, it's most likely caused by your teeth contracting.

The problem with this is when the teeth are met with very cold air and contract, they expand again after the mouth is closed. The repeated action of contraction and expansion can cause hairline cracks. Those will permanently weaken the teeth and can cause them to become sensitive.

Another way that icy weather jeopardizes dental health is the tendency of many to clench their jaws shut when faced with winter’s wrath. Such action over time can result in the erosion of tooth enamel and pain in the teeth, gums and jaw.

Whenever possible, avoid exposing your teeth to dangerously cold air by breathing through your nose and keeping your mouth closed. After taking precautions, if pain and discomfort are still present for more than three days, it’s time to see your dentist. There could be issues with older fillings, receding gums, cavities, cracked teeth, bite problems, infections, worn out crowns and bridges, TMJ or grinding problems.

Do your part by having regular check-ups and practicing daily oral hygiene through routine brushing, flossing and rinsing. If you notice sensitivity, ask your dentist about special toothpastes or try some of the over-the-counter brands. Flossing helps also by keeping gums healthy and free of irritating debris. Using a fluoride mouthwash can actually create a protective seal over the teeth and is yet one more way to combat sensitivity. And remember that soft bristled toothbrushes are always best.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, a gift bag full of dental care goodies is a great way to show you care and warm up a winter day!

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