How Does Winter Affect Your Teeth

We live in MN, so we are used to the temperature changes, right?  It can go from -20 to +40 in the matter of hours.  Do you plug your car in at night?  Do you have to scrape off ice and snow from your windshield before you can leave for work or school? Does your winter gear only have holes for your eyes and your mouth? You deal with cold air on a daily basis. Cold air and colder temperatures mean you live in the deep freeze! How does all this cold air affect your teeth?

Sensitive teeth are more common than you might think, although that stinging zing of pain you feel when something sets off your sensitivity probably makes it easy to think otherwise. Your teeth enjoy living in your mouth, where the temperature is warm and cozy. Exposure to colder or hotter temperatures doesn’t make them happy, so winter weather is often a worry for anyone who suffers from sensitive teeth. Is there any way to protect your teeth when the temperatures drop low? The extreme changes in temperature are felt in teeth. You re not alone if they seem more sensitive in the MN winters.

The Temperature and Your Teeth

Teeth are strong and hard, but they’re also porous (microscopic tubes) and thus sensitive by their very nature. At some point, it’s entirely likely that everyone will feel a bit of pain when they drink a hot beverage or bite down on a popsicle. Generally speaking, being out in the cold weather won’t bother the average pair of teeth.

When you breathe through your mouth in the cold air, your teeth can contract, which lets the frigid air touch any of the sensitive spaces on your teeth, especially right along your gum line. Closing your mouth will help warm your teeth. Teeth expand and contract with the temperature changes, many materials do this. It is called the coefficient of thermal expansion. Over time, it can create tiny cracks and fissures in your teeth (just like the potholes in our MN roads!). Those cracks create even more sensitivity to extreme temperatures know they’re there, which is also why it’s crucial to find a provider you trust

If your teeth do have a sensitivity to the cold, how do you prevent pain and irritation from cold air or cold and warm beverages?

There are a few treatments on the market for alleviating your sensitive teeth. You can choose to try at home remedies such as toothpaste for sensitive teeth. It has potassium nitrate that plug the microscopic tubes that fluid move in with response to temperature changes. Crest and Colgate brands tend to taste best. If you do not find relief from the pain they experience from hot or cold foods or a mix of wintry air! Whitening in the spring or summer instead of winter can help lesson the tooth sensitivity to the winter chill.

There are in-office treatments you can try. One option is prescription strength sensitive toothpaste. There are also in office fluoride treatments that can jump start comfort. If that does not resolve the issues, sometimes fillings to cover the exposed area, grafting of the gum to protect or conceal the exposed tooth.

We look forward to seeing you soon!  Dr. Jenny