You know that point in your semi-annual teeth cleaning visit where the dentist runs his metal scraper along your gum line and he eventually hits a point that makes you jump in the dental chair? That’s called a “zing” and with cold winter weather droning on and on your teeth may also be feeling the zing from the outdoor air.
As hard as our teeth are, they are not immune to extreme hot or cold temperatures. Teeth are porous and sensitive in nature; however they should be able to endure the cold with little to no irritation on a regular basis. Teeth are used to our normal body temperatures, so when they encounter something hotter or colder while eating and drinking, they can experience issues that may cause great pain or at least mild irritation.
Solid substances and liquids are not the only things that can irritate your teeth; cold air breathed in through an open mouth can cause teeth to contract and can allow the air to touch upon exposed sensitive areas especially along the gum line. After teeth have contracted from exposure to cold air, they will expand again once your mouth is closed. Over time, these expansions and contractions can cause hairline cracks in your teeth that you may not even know are there, but they’ll rear their ugly heads once they hit cold temperatures.
Oftentimes, people tend to clench their jaw while tensing up trying to stay warm in the cold weather also causing jaw and teeth erosion issues that may emanate tooth pain as well.
A simple way to avoid tooth pain from cold air exposure is to breathe through your nose as much as possible when you are outside. Cold air will hurt your teeth if they are exposed for even small periods of time, however once you close your mouth and cover your teeth with your lips and get your saliva circulating within the mouth the pain should recede. If the cold sensation or ache remains for a while, typically defined as longer than three days, there is a good chance your teeth may be compromised in some other way.
If the cold weather seems much harder on your teeth than seems reasonable, there are some underlying problems the cold weather may be exposing. These could include things such as older fillings that don’t fit anymore, crowns or bridges that have eroded over time, cracked teeth, areas of gum recession from over-brushing or periodontal disease, cavities, infected teeth or gums, bite issues and tooth clenching or grinding.
Exposed roots can also be quite sensitive to cold air and liquids. Roots can be exposed when gums recede or are brushed too hard on a regular basis. The zings that exposed roots can cause are not usually long-lasting; however they can be surprising and painful.
Battling cold-sensitive teeth can be as simple as practicing good oral hygiene. Make sure you have regular dental check-ups. Most insurance companies cover semi-annual dental visits, so there’s nothing to lose in visiting a dentist every six months. Many over-the-counter toothpaste brands include sensitive options that are specially made to help reduce tooth sensitivity within a few weeks of regular usage.
Other things you can do to help reduce teeth sensitivities include rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash once or twice a day. This will help create a seal over sensitive areas of your teeth. When choosing a toothbrush, opt for the soft bristled version, and brush gently so you’re not eroding your precious enamel. Make sure you are flossing; this will stimulate your gums so they may not recede as much and will keep them generally healthy.