BURR… Is Cold Weather Making Your Teeth Hurt?

The best way to deal with pain in your teeth from cold weather is to take preventative measures.

Cold Teeth

Are you wondering when spring weather will make an appearance? With cold temperatures your teeth may be feeling the winter chill as well. As many as 40 million adults, or one out of every eight people, in the United States suffer at some time from sensitive teeth. As temperatures drop, people with sensitive teeth could experience increased pain. When your teeth already hurt, exposing them to cold winter air can be just as painful as consuming hot and cold foods and beverages, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Humans experience many changes in temperatures in our mouth throughout the day, especially, our front teeth that are subjected to temperature differences of as much as 120 degrees several times a day.

 

Why does cold air hurt my teeth?

When we are outside, breathing abnormally cold air through the mouth can cause teeth to contract and then expand again when heated back to body temperature. When teeth are exposed to sudden changes in temperature the dentin (tissue that is calcified and consists of tiny tubules or tubes and is the second layer of the tooth, normally covered by enamel) expands and contracts faster than the enamel, causing stress which can result in cracks forming. These cracks may not be visible and do not compromise the structure of the tooth, however, it can cause uncomfortable sensitivity. The pain that you feel in your teeth is caused by the movement of fluid within the tiny tubes located in the dentin, which results in nerve irritation when exposed.

You could also be clenching your jaw when you’re out and not realizing it. Some people tend to tense up in the cold trying to keep warm, while others have dental problems that may require a visit to their dentist.

If the cold sensation persists or causes an ache or worse, there is a good chance that the pain is being caused by one of the following reasons listed below.

 

Here are the top reasons for cold weather induced pain in your mouth:

  1. Defective fillings where the gaps are open
  2. Defective crown or bridge margins with damages from food and mouth acids.
  3. Cracked teeth
  4. Recessed gums from periodontal disease
  5. Bite problems
  6. Tooth grinding or clenching
  7. Infected teeth or gums
  8. Teeth are porous and sensitive
  9. Cavities
  10. Periodontal disease
  11. Large metal fillings

 

Additional Causes Of Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity occurs specifically when our gums recede; they shrink away from the roots of our teeth and expose them a bit. That little bit is just enough to expose the tiny pores or tubules that cover the roots. This discomfort does not last long and usually only affects the nerve because the microscopic nerve endings on the roots have been exposed by brushing too hard or using too hard of a brush. It can be quite painful during the moments after the nerve endings have been touched however. Treatment can be simple as using a soft tooth brush and desensitizing tooth paste to the use of a fluoride coating that the dentist or hygienist applies to the exposed sensitive areas to block the pain.

Allergies and sinus problems can also be the culprit. Throughout the year, as well as this time of year it is common for patients to experience sinus pressure and infections. Because of the location of your sinuses, this pain and pressure if often mistaken as tooth pain.

 

Preventative Measures & When To See A Dentist

  • In the winter months, breathe in and out through your nose whenever possible, when you are outdoors in cold weather because breathing cold air through the mouth can often make your teeth sensitive. The lips, cheek and tongue tend to insulate your teeth from the cold if your mouth is closed.
  • If you find that your teeth are sensitive to cold air, you can do something about it. To start off, you can make sure to practice proper oral hygiene, including rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash, avoiding alcohol-containing rinses, and you may also consider wearing a bite guard to reduce pressure on your teeth.
  • Remember, the best way to deal with pain in your teeth from cold weather is to take preventative measures before the pain gets worse. If your teeth are highly sensitive to cold temperatures for more than a week, it is recommended that you seek the help of a dentist to diagnose the problem. Letting the pain go untreated may lead to dental health problems, because the pain you are experiencing is very similar to that of a cavity, which may not yet be visible. Only a dentist would be able to determine the true source of your pain.
  • Remember to call your dentist or orthodontist to schedule a consultation for all your specific dental needs.