You know how sensitive your teeth feel when you head outside in the winter and breathe through your mouth? What causes this seasonal tooth pain? How does neglecting your pearly whites increase the risk? And what are the best ways to alleviate the discomfort? Read on!
What causes seasonal/temperature related tooth pain?
Extreme temperatures caused by cold air or hot foods can put a lot of pressure on your teeth. Teeth, like most materials, expand and contract when exposed to extreme hot or cold.
All this expanding and contracting can lead to cracks in your teeth. Most of the time these cracks don’t affect tooth structure, but they can cause discomfort by exposing the dentin. Dentin is the sensitive layer underneath your dental enamel, covered in nerve fibers that are sensitive to extreme temperature.
How does neglecting your pearly whites increase the risk?
Weather-related tooth sensitivity can occur no matter how well you take care of your teeth, but you’re at greater risk if you don’t maintain your oral health. Problems such as tooth decay and periodontal disease make you more vulnerable to seasonal/temperature related tooth pain.
Neglecting your oral health care causes the tooth enamel to wear down and/or the gums to recede. This exposes the layer of your teeth that is very sensitive to temperature changes. When your teeth are well maintained, they are less likely to crack.
Why are some teeth more sensitive than others?
- Periodontal disease – Neglecting your oral usually causes the gums to recede, increasing sensitivity.
- Tooth decay – Sensitivity to the cold is one of the first signs of a cavity forming. If you have a crack, cavity or other entry point into a tooth, cold air can cause intense pain at the site of the cavity.
- Aggressive brushing – Brushing too hard can do more harm than good. It will eventually wear down your enamel and expose the dentin beneath.
- Seasonal illness – In the winter most of us are more likely to catch a cold or flu. Sinus inflammation and irritation can put pressure on dental nerves causing pain and sensitivity.
- Tooth whitening – The ingredients that make teeth whiter contain chemicals that can strip enamel from the teeth and expose dentin. Consult with your dentist if you have sensitive teeth, to whiten teeth without putting your teeth or gums at risk.
- Acidic drinks – Beverages that contain citrus, coffee and tea contain an acid can erode teeth.
- Mask mouth – Mask mouth is a side effect that occurs from wearing a mask for an extended time. Symptoms include dry mouth, bad breath, tooth decay and even gum disease. The CDC recommends wearing a mask in public setting, which is crucial in slowing COVID’s spread. So wearing the mask is not optional.What you can do is stay hydrated, keep mouthwash on hand to fight bacteria and of course brush and floss regularly.
Treating tooth sensitivity
- Fluoride treatment – You dentist can apply fluoride to strengthen the enamel and prevent sensitivity because of exposed dentin.
- Sealant – Your dentist can apply a sealant to cover your exposed gums.
- Breathe through your nose – When outdoors breath through your nose as must as possible, to help keep your mouth warm.
It’s time to see your dentist if…
If you don’t normally have sensitive teeth, but suddenly feel acute pain it’s time to call your dentist. Whether the extreme sensitivity is caused by a recent dental procedure, tooth decay, or a cracked tooth, diagnose the problem before it progresses.