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5 Reasons Your Teeth May Be More Sensitive in Winter

5 Reasons Your Teeth May Be More Sensitive in Winter

It’s a common problem for people around the world — teeth that are overly sensitive to extremely cold or, sometimes, hot food. When your teeth are sensitive, eating an ice cream cone gives you more than brain freeze. It can send a shock wave through a tooth or teeth, too.

If your teeth are sensitive to food and beverage temperatures, you may notice that it worsens in the wintertime. Why would that be? It’s not like you’re eating the snow or drinking the freezing rain. 

At Union Square Dental, Kateryna Grytsenko, DDS, and our entire dental team have noticed that some women and men suffer more tooth pain in the colder months. Following are some of the reasons why you may reach for the desensitizing toothpaste more often when winter comes around.  

1. Cold air compresses your teeth

When you’re outdoors, you may notice that your teeth feel as if you’ve just bitten into a snow cone. If you talk or mouth-breathe while outdoors, the cold air actually causes your teeth to contract. This contraction puts pressure on the nerves and can lead to pain.

Also, if you have periodontitis or a cavity that hasn’t been treated and filled, the cold air can irritate exposed nerve endings. The shock may be particularly severe if you have metal amalgam fillings. Metal responds to changes in temperature very quickly, and it transmits the cold to your teeth.

Since you can’t change the weather or stay indoors all winter, prepare yourself for the wintry winds. Wear a scarf or high-collared sweater or coat that can create a guard in front of your mouth to prevent the frigid wind from getting in.

2. Hot beverages expand your teeth

You’ve probably thought about your teeth as static structures, but as we see from winter winds, they’re not. Cold air compresses tooth cells. Hot beverages, in contrast, expand them.

When you drink wintertime staples to chase away the winter chill, the drink quickly warms up the outer layers of your teeth. This expands the tooth cells so the warmth penetrates more deeply — all the way to the nerves. Culprits include:

Allow hot beverages, soups, and stews to cool a bit before consuming. Or, sip slowly so your teeth have time to adjust.

3. Dry air dries your teeth

Just as with any other tissue, including your skin, your teeth can become dehydrated by winter’s drier air. Both dry wind outdoors and dry indoor heating systems can suck moisture from your mouth, which leads to less saliva production.

Saliva helps keep your teeth moist and holds germs at bay, too.  When your mouth is dry, however, you could be more prone to dental sensitivity.

Carry a water bottle with you to stay hydrated. Keep alcohol to a minimum. Chewing sugar-free gum can help you produce more tooth-friendly saliva, too.

4. You have sinus problems

If you have a cold or an infection that affects your sinuses, you may feel the pain in your teeth, too. Some sinuses lie behind your cheeks and nose. Pain and inflammation in those cavities can radiate to  your teeth, too.

Many women and men with sinus infections or inflammation experience extra tooth sensitivity. See your doctor to treat the underlying sinus infection; your tooth sensitivity should clear up as well.

5. You have a sweet tooth

Winter is full of holidays, and most holidays are filled with treats: cookies, candies, cakes, punch … the list goes on. Extra sugar isn’t just bad for your waistline and health;  it’s bad for your teeth, too.

The bacteria that cause tooth decay love to eat sugar at least as much as we do. When we eat or drink sugary treats, bacteria grow and multiply, thanks to the sticky sweet film on our teeth known as plaque. As bacteria proliferate, they release acids that eat away at tooth enamel.

Over time, this  acid erosion increases your risk of tooth decay. It also makes your teeth more sensitive. If you must have sweets, rinse well with warm water afterward. This helps neutralize acids and remove sugars that would otherwise cling to your teeth.

Tooth sensitivity is an important sign

Although tooth sensitivity isn’t always a sign of a serious problem, it can be. Grinding your teeth at night, tiny cracks, untreated cavities, infections, and gum disease can all cause extra sensitivity during the cold months of winter as well as all year round. 

Dental checkups twice a year ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy and sound. If your teeth hurt this winter, phone our friendly staff or use our online scheduler to arrange a checkup and treatment today. 


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