Ever felt your teeth ache on a cold day and thought it must be a coincidence? The reality is that our teeth can be affected by extreme cold or heat. This pain associated with cold weather often affects people who have similar sensitivities to cold or hot food such as ice-cream and hot and cold drinks.
Temperature changes in the mouth from breathing in cold air, (or from cold and hot food and drinks) causes miniscule movement of fluid inside any area of exposed tooth dentine, which in turn stimulates nerves inside the tooth leading to sensitivity or pain.
Exposed dentine results from the loss of the enamel covering of your teeth. Enamel protects dentine, allows you to chew and prevents extremes of hot and cold temperatures reaching the nerves.
Enamel can be lost as a result of tooth decay, tooth wear from clenching or grinding or from chips and fractures of teeth. Tooth dentine can also become exposed if you have gum recession or suffer from gum disease.
Sensitivity or pain from teeth can lead to those winter months dragging out and have a negative impact on your life through a decrease in activities and lifestyle in an effort to avoid further dental pain.
There are some steps you can take to help you get through the winter months and protect your enamel without experiencing this pain.
Use a toothpaste that is specifically designed for sensitive teeth. It can help to brush at least half an hour before going outside. Your dentist will be able to recommend a brand that is best for you. To give the toothpaste the best chance of working, don’t eat or drink after brushing
Use a soft bristled toothbrush and brush in a circular motion. It’s also important to brush gently in order to further protect the enamel on your teeth.
Unless your dentist advises that its safe for your teeth to do so, teeth bleaching products can wear down enamel and increase sensitivity. If you’re already experiencing pain from sensitivity, this can only make matters worse.
Over time this habit can cause further breakdowns in the enamel of your teeth. Speak to your dentist about options which may be available to help you with this
Your dentist will be able to identify any areas of exposed dentine in the mouth and recommend options to fix the issues leading to sensitivity.
Left untreated, sensitivity can continue to worsen, become more constant or even cause irreversible damage to the tooth. Additionally, there is often a negative impact on the quality of life of those living with pain. Ensuring your teeth are well cared for with regular brushing and flossing will help minimize any further damage. Speak to your dentist at your next check-up about additional options such as a fluoride or a desensitizing treatment. Your dentist may also recommend getting your teeth sealed to help protect them and decrease the pain you experience.