Cold Weather Got Your Teeth Hurting? Here’s How Sensitive Teeth Work (And How We Can Help!)
Cold weather is a nightmare for those with sensitive teeth. While it’s reasonable for those with extra-sensitive smiles to expect a twinge when biting into something cold or sipping something hot, it’s another thing entirely to feel discomfort or pain from merely walking outdoors in the winter. Although this phenomenon may seem downright disrespectful, it’s something that can be remedied, in most cases, with a trip to your dentist and some self-care steps.
Tooth Anatomy and Pain
Your teeth have nerve endings, which are usually well-protected by the enamel of your teeth. These nerve endings, like others, respond to outside stimuli and send your brain signals accordingly. When exposed to cold weather, those nerve signals can translate to pain.
Eroded enamel can happen from exposure to acidic food or beverages, over-brushing, improper teeth whitening or accidental damage, to name just a few common causes. When the enamel wears down, it exposes the next layer of the tooth: dentin. Dentin is the layer that surrounds the pulp, which holds your teeth’s nerves and blood vessels. Without the hard outer shell of the enamel to shield exposed dentin, cold weather can cause pain to teeth.
Expansion and Contraction
Don’t discount the contraction and expansion of your teeth when exposed to extreme temperatures as a source of pain, either. Teeth can fluctuate up to 120 degrees in their temperature. Like other organic matter, they contract in cold temps and expand in hot ones. As they do this, your teeth may develop minor cracks or fissures to accommodate the changes. Although they don’t typically cause damage to your tooth’s health or integrity, they can cause discomfort. If you’ve had previous dental work with metal amalgam fillings, the discomfort may skyrocket into pain, because metal expands and contracts at a quicker rate than the surrounding tooth.
Sinus Pressure Hurts, Too
Cold and flu viruses make the rounds at the same time as cold weather — not as a result of the weather but because more people are congregating indoors and sharing their germs. It’s no coincidence that tooth pain can occur during these times. Likewise, those with seasonal allergies may find early autumn cold weather difficult on their teeth, too — and it all boils down to sinus pressure.
Our sinus cavities, when full of mucus and other gunk, can put pressure on the roots and nerves that lead to our teeth. If you find your upper teeth hurting more during cold weather, it may not be the temperature at all: it could be your sinuses wreaking havoc on the nerves that serve your mouth.
What You Can Do — And How We Can Help
The only acceptable amount of dental pain is none at all. The first step in figuring out the root of the problem and the most effective solution is to book an appointment with your dentist. With a visual exam and a set of X-rays, your dentist and their team can figure out how best to stop the pain.
Some people with large amounts of exposed dentin may need a protective coating painted onto their teeth to stop the discomfort, pain and sensitivity. Others may need only brush with a toothpaste designed to give relief to those with sensitive teeth. If you have a cavity or another dental problem, this can exacerbate the pain — your dentist will work on that to give you relief.
Self-care of your teeth and gums is important when you’re having cold-related sensitivity or pain. Brush and floss as normal to reduce plaque and lessen decay. Eliminate at-home whitening treatments (which you should be avoiding anyway!), abrasive toothpastes containing charcoal (which you should also be avoiding!) and folk remedies like baking soda, and reduce or avoid acidic foods and drinks like coffee, citrus and tomato-based products, which can make the sensitivity worse.
Taking protective measures to keep your mouth warm when you step outside may also help. Breathing through your nose, rather than your mouth, can keep the pain at bay, as can bundling up with a scarf.
Let Us Help You
Although going to the dentist is rarely anyone’s favorite task, the office of Drs. Krieger and Hur does everything we can to make it as pleasant and enjoyable an experience as possible. We use the latest technology to deliver a pain-free experience from the moment you book your appointment to the moment you leave after being seen.
To that end, we’ve made it easy to schedule an appointment. You can snag your spot by giving us a call at (201) 560-0606. Or you can book your appointment by email. To do so, click here and one of our team will reach out to you to firm up your details. We look forward to helping give you the smile you deserve — whether it’s the dead of winter or the height of summer.