Oral Health Resources | 23 August, 2019

Is That Winter Chill Hurting Your Teeth?

There’s plenty of reasons to smile in winter –  getting out into the snow, lighting a warm fire and warming up your home, cosy evenings with friends and family.

However, if you’ve got sensitive teeth, you won’t be smiling about the pain once the temperatures drop.

Yes, your teeth are strong and hard but that doesn’t make them immune to the effects of extreme temperatures. Weather sensitivity can occur regardless of how well you care for your teeth, but you’re at greater risk if you don’t practice good oral hygiene and live in an area that has extreme temperature swings.

Why do my teeth hurt when it’s cold?

When tooth enamel wears down or the gums recede, it exposes a layer of your teeth that is very sensitive to temperature changes. If something too hot or too cold touches this part of your mouth, you’ll feel some pain.

During winter, your teeth contract and expand in response to intense cold weather. This can lead to cracks in your teeth and cause the same type of pain that you experience when you bite into ice cream.

The cracks can expose the vulnerable microscopic tubes beneath your enamel. This is the same tooth pain you feel because of cavities, gum disease, and other bad oral habits.

This layer below the enamel is called dentin. It’s the ‘core’ of your teeth, with the enamel covering the top of this layer and the gums covering the bottom portion.  The dentin is covered in nerve fibers. Therefore, any problems with your enamel or gums, such as periodontal disease, could leave you vulnerable to cold weather pain.

To minimize sensitivity, you should learn about the common causes for sensitive teeth and what you should do when you notice pain because of the cold weather.

Common causes of dentin exposure include:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Clenching and grinding
  • Tooth decay
  • Acidic beverages
  • Other lifestyle habits including smoking and unsatisfactory oral hygiene habits

If you are feeling pain in your teeth, you should always consult your dentist.