Does Cold Weather Make Your Teeth Hurt?
There are an abundance of reasons why many people dread Old Man Winter. For some it may be because they hate scraping ice off their windshields in the morning. For others it’s the earlier sunsets, snow shoveling, frigid temperatures, or the fact that their teeth hurt every time they step outside. If you are one of the many Americans who experiences tooth sensitivity during cold weather, you are not alone!
Colder temperatures can cause your teeth to hurt. It’s important to understand why this happens and what you can do about it.
Believe it or not, age can trigger tooth sensitivity. If you are between the ages of 20 and 30 and have never had a problem with sensitivity in the past, there is a good chance that your sensitivity will go away with time. However, you should be aware of other reasons why you may experience tooth sensitivity in the event that your sensitivity is not age-related.
You grind your teeth
Continuous grinding or clenching can wear down the enamel on your teeth and begin to expose dentin. Dentin contains tubes that are connected to the nerves of your teeth, causing cold air and cold foods to be especially painful.
You have gum disease, or gingivitis
When the gums separate from your teeth due to an active infection in your mouth, areas of your teeth are exposed that may be especially sensitive.
You recently had dental work done
It is common to experience sensitivity after the tooth structure has been disturbed. Whether you have just had a filling, crown, or root canal – a few weeks of sensitivity is to be expected. If the sensitivity doesn’t go away after about a month, contact your dentist.
You use mouthwash with alcohol
Alcohol can wear down the enamel and expose sensitive areas of your teeth. You may want to consider swapping your mouthwash for a fluoride rinse that is alcohol-free.
You brush too hard
Brushing too hard can have the same effect as grinding your teeth. Stick to soft bristles only or consider using an electric toothbrush to help you control the amount of pressure you apply when brushing.
You have tooth decay
If there are areas of active decay in your mouth, they will be especially sensitive. If you have one specific area that suddenly becomes very sensitive, call your dentist to make an appointment right away.
How to Alleviate Tooth Sensitivity
If the cold weather has you grimacing every time you step outside, the first thing you probably want to do is switch to a sensitivity toothpaste such as Sensodyne Pronamel. The trick to seeing results with a sensitivity paste is to only brush with that toothpaste (don’t swap between a regular toothpaste and a sensitivity paste) and to not rinse with water or mouthwash after brushing.
For those who suspect they may be grinding their teeth, talk to you dentist about getting a night guard. A nightguard can make a big difference when it comes to increased sensitivity during the winter months.
If a sensitivity paste isn’t bringing you much relief and you don’t think you are grinding your teeth, it’s time to give your dentist a call. Your dentist can help rule out active tooth decay or gum disease. He or she can also apply a tooth desensitizer and/or administer a fluoride treatment that should help lessen your cold weather tooth sensitivity.
Although we can’t do much to help with the troublesome snow and ice that winter brings, we hope that these simple suggestions will help alleviate any tooth pain you may experience when you step outside this winter!