Winter can be a tough season. Dry skin, chapped lips, and even the wintertime blues affect many people. But another surprising challenge people deal with is increased teeth sensitivity, which might seem insignificant but can really impact you on a daily basis! Fortunately, there are some easy ways to alleviate it so you can get through the winter without thinking about your teeth every day. Keep reading to find out why sensitivity increases in the cold weather and what you can do about it!
Why Does Sensitivity Increase In the Winter?
Have you ever noticed how the pavement on a sidewalk cracks after a long winter? This happens because it continually contracts and expands with temperature changes. The sun comes out during the day and temperatures rise before freezing again at night. Over time, this contraction and expansion leads to cracks.
And, although you certainly don’t feel it, your teeth also expand and contract in response to temperature changes. Your teeth are made of layers – the hard outer layer is called enamel, while the softer layer underneath is called dentin.
When you leave your nice toasty house in the morning and head outside into the cold, your dentin contracts and expands faster than your enamel, which stimulates the nerves of your teeth and leads to sensitivity.
Other Reasons For Sensitivity
Everyone is subject to this phenomenon in the winter, but there are other things that may be contributing to your sensitivity as well. Here are some examples:
- Gum recession
- Frequently eating acidic foods and beverages
- Clenching and grinding
- Cavities or fractures
How Can You Treat Your Sensitive Teeth?
Here are some of the things you can do to reduce sensitivity:
- Schedule a checkup – It’s always a good idea to schedule a checkup so a dentist can rule out serious causes like cavities or fractures. After they’ve determined the cause of your sensitivity they can recommend the appropriate treatment.
- Use topical fluoride – Fluoride is a mineral that has multiple benefits. First, it strengthens your enamel, much like calcium strengthens bones, to prevent tooth decay. It’s also a potent desensitizer. You can either use a store-bought fluoride mouthwash, or, for more severe sensitivity, you can ask a dentist to prescribe a highly-effective, prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste.
- Use a sensitivity toothpaste – Alternatively, you might try a sensitivity toothpaste. With special ingredients like potassium nitrate, these formulas will put a protective coating over the teeth to insulate the nerve and reduce sensitivity.
- Wear a night guard – This will protect the nerves of your teeth from being agitated by nighttime clenching and grinding.
- Use a soft toothbrush and light pressure – Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and don’t scrub. This way, you won’t wear away your enamel or cause gum recession.
Also, if you’re using a topical product like toothpaste, remember that it can take 1-3 weeks consistently using it to see results, so don’t give up if you don’t get relief immediately.
When your teeth are feeling the chill this winter, these tips will reduce sensitivity so you have one less “wintertime challenge” to deal with!
About the Author
Dr. Ira Newman is a general dentist in Gramercy Park who has helped many of his patients find relief from sensitive teeth over the years. He always starts by closely evaluating each patient so he can recommend the best solution for their specific needs. If you have sensitive teeth and have any other questions, he can be contacted via his website or at (212) 924-6890.