Cold weather increases pain sensitivity and intensity for some people. If you have teeth that are sensitive to cold drinks and foods, you may experience discomfort when temperatures outside turn chilly.
The pain felt in cold-sensitive teeth makes it difficult to enjoy outdoor socializing and exercise. If you avoid activities including skiing or sporting events to minimize the risks of cold-related tooth pain, the isolation and disappointment can negatively affect both your lifestyle and your mental health.
Fortunately, you can take steps to lower your risk of feeling pain when the cold breezes blow. Follow the three steps listed below to keep cold-weather tooth pain away.
Take Care of Your Enamel
Your tooth has a protective outer coating called enamel. Part of the enamel’s job is to offer a barrier between very cold (or hot) substances and the sensitive inner part of teeth.
In some people, the enamel doesn’t do its job properly. People with this condition will feel discomfort when they drink very cold liquids or eat ice cream. They may also feel pain when drinking hot chocolate or hot tea. Outdoors, people with inadequate enamel may feel every gust of cold air rush over their teeth in a very uncomfortable way.
If your enamel needs a boost to give it an edge against extreme temperatures, use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth before going outside. Your dentist can recommend a reliable brand. Wait 30 minutes or so before going outside, and try not to eat or drink anything that will rub away the protective coating left by the toothpaste.
In addition, protect your enamel by using a soft-bristled toothbrush and brushing in a gentle, circular motion. Stop using tooth-bleaching products and whitening toothpastes unless advised otherwise by your dentist. Tooth-whitening products can wear down enamel and increase tooth sensitivity.
Here are some other ways to protect your enamel:
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks
- Don’t chew ice or abrasive foods
- Apply prescribed fluoride or desensitizing treatments
- Brush and floss every day
- Have teeth sealed by your dentist
Also, if you clench your teeth when awake or asleep, the pressure will wear down your teeth over time. Clenching the teeth can lead to many issues in the jaw and mouth, not the least of which is increased enamel wearing. Your dentist can fit you for an anti-clenching device to help you stop tooth-grinding.
Pay Attention to Acute Pain
If you normally don’t have sensitive teeth but suddenly feel sharp pangs in a tooth when you go outside into a cold environment, the intense pain is normally a sign of a problem. There are a variety of causes for sharp tooth pain when outdoors, although some have nothing to do with teeth at all.
For example, if you have inflamed sinuses, the pressure can make your teeth ache when you’re inside and outside. An ear infection or jawbone condition can create pain that seems to be coming from your teeth. Gum disease is also a reason why some people develop sensitive teeth. Cold temperatures may increase the pain caused by ear, gum or jaw problems.
If you have a crack, cavity or other entry point into a tooth, cold air can cause intense pain at the site of the tooth break or cavity. If a filling falls out, or the root of a tooth is exposed, cold air can cause extreme pain in the affected tooth.
The cold may also affect you due to a recent dental procedure that needs more time to heal. Whether it’s caused by post-dental-procedure sensitivity, an injury, tooth decay or a crack in a tooth, acute tooth pain in cold weather demands a visit to the experts for a complete examination. Your dentist can fill, extract or repair the tooth that’s causing you pain when temperatures fall. Then, you can enjoy the great outdoors again.
Keep Your Mouth Warm When Outdoors
Preventing and treating cavities, cracks and gum disease are some of the steps you can take to decrease the chances you’ll feel autumn- and winter-related tooth pain. Caring for your enamel is another great step in the right direction. But you can still have sensitive and painful teeth in cold weather after you’ve done all of these things.
One suggestion is to breathe through your nose as much as possible when outdoors. Your cheeks and lips insulate your teeth as long as your mouth is closed. The air you breathe through your nose will be warmer by the time it reaches your teeth, so reactions to the cold may be lessened.
If you’re sitting on bleachers in a brisk wind, a scarf lightly wrapped around the mouth can warm the air before it contacts the surface of your teeth. Cup your hands around your mouth and nose to create a warming zone you can inhale from with each breath. A hot cup of tea or cocoa with steam you can inhale may also help in an outdoor location. Just try not to drink very hot liquids outside, as the extreme temperature may increase your teeth’s sensitivity to cold.
Contact Silverado Family Dental today to schedule your dental exam. We can help make your smile appear brighter and your teeth feel better throughout the year.