Do you have sensitive teeth? Do you dread the winter months because you think the pain is going to get worse? If so, you are not alone. Many people experience tooth sensitivity, and they claim the pain tends to increase as the temperature decreases. Why is that? Can you have more sensitive teeth in the winter?
Let’s take a look at the reasons behind heightened tooth sensitivity in the wintertime, and how to ease the pain.
Why Does Tooth Pain Intensify?
Cold winter weather does magnify tooth pain that you may already be feeling. When an object is affected by temperature changes, the term used is thermal stress. Teeth have two primary layers, dentin and enamel. Enamel is the thick outer coating that you can see, but dentin is a softer inner layer. The reason winter weather reeks so much havoc on teeth is because those layers expand and contract when the temperature changes. Sadly, dentin expands and contracts faster than enamel, leaving microscopic cracks in your teeth. These cracks can be very sensitive and painful! For more information about thermal stress and tooth layers, check out this blog post by Axiom Dentistry.
What is the Cause of Tooth Sensitivity?
To help you avoid excruciating pain this winter, we have put together a handy list of common causes of tooth sensitivity and what you can do about it.
- Receding Gum Lines. Your gums protect the roots of your teeth, if they start to recede you will likely experience some pain when drinking hot or cold beverages, or even when breathing frigid winter air.
- Aggressive Brushing. We tend to think that we have to brush really hard in order to get our squeaky teeth clean, but actually brushing aggressively can hurt teeth more than it helps them. Brushing roughly breaks down the enamel coating on your teeth and makes them more sensitive to the elements.
- Grinding Your Teeth. Many people grind their teeth in their sleep. Grinding your teeth is another common cause of enamel break down. When enamel weakens, sensitivity is inevitable.
- Loose Cavities or Fillings. Sometimes teeth feel sensitive because a cavity or a loose filling has exposed a nerve. If the nerve of a tooth is exposed, things like hot or cold drinks and sticky foods, can get down in the tooth and send shooting pain throughout the mouth. You want to make sure that you are visiting a dentist regularly so that they can help you avoid any unnecessary pain.
How to Stop Your Teeth From Hurting
You are probably thinking, “Wow! That’s a huge list. How am I supposed to know how to treat MY tooth pain?” Never fear. There are lots of simple ways to help relieve some of that nagging tooth pain. Try out one of these easy at-home solutions:
- Use a Soft Toothbrush. This is an easy one. Get a soft-bristled toothbrush and try brushing very gently for two minutes twice a day. It may not feel like much, but you will be doing your teeth a huge favor.
- Floss. Add flossing to your daily tooth care routine. Flossing stimulates your gums and help prevent them from receding.
- Use Fluoride. You can opt to have it added as part of your regular dental cleaning, but you can also buy a bottle and just brush it onto your teeth after you have finished your regular brushing.
- Use Mouthwash. You can also try a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Simply rinse your mouth with it 2-3 times a day to build up a protective coating on your teeth.
- Use Different Toothpaste. Some people’s teeth are just more sensitive to regular toothpaste. Try using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth like Sensodyne.
- Wear a Night Guard. If you grind your teeth, a simple solution is to purchase a night guard and wear it consistently.
- Keep Your Teeth Warm. Wear a scarf over your mouth when you are outdoors and breath through your nose. This will help warm the air you are breathing and keep the cold air from getting to your teeth and causing microscopic cracks.
- Avoid Acidic Beverages. Drinks like soda and fruit juice can break down the enamel on your teeth, causing them to become more sensitive.
If your tooth pain persists for longer than three days after trying one of the above solutions, you should visit a dental professional to check for periodontal issues or gum disease. You can also see our previous post, How to Stop Gum Disease from Hurting Your Health. Dentists are great about finding the problem and giving you feasible solutions to help relieve you of your pain.
Family SmileCare Center wrote a great blog with more information about wintertime tooth sensitivity.
Don’t hide inside this winter. Take some action steps to protect your teeth in these cold winter months and smile!