You can go through the whole summer and not feel any sensitivity problems. Then the winter comes and you're plagued with pain when you have something too hot or too cold. Is it just a figment of your imagination, or is there a real connection between tooth sensitivity and winter?
Teeth Become Sensitive to Temperature
The teeth can be sensitive to the temperature around them. This isn't just about the temperature of food and drink, but that of the atmosphere outside. As the outside air gets colder, the teeth become more sensitive to touch and eating any food or drinking any drink can become uncomfortable. Favorite Plus calls this thermal stress.
What Causes Sensitivity?
Sensitivity is a sign that your tooth enamel is wearing away. The dentin (the middle of the tooth) is exposed, and you are more at risk of tooth decay. It could also be a sign that the root is exposed due to the gums receding. These parts of the teeth expand and contract due to temperature, with the dentin expanding and contracting quicker, creating very small cracks in the teeth.
With the cracks there, the nerves are closer to the surface. Food and drink can touch them, and that can send bouts of pain through the mouth.
Vigorous brushing or using a brush that is too hard can both lead to sensitivity. You can wear the enamel more and push the gums back to expose the root. Grinding your teeth can also cause a problem, which tends to happen more in the winter as you clench while cold.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
It may sound impossible to stop winter tooth sensitivity, but that isn't the case. A good oral hygiene routine will help, especially one that uses a softer-bristled toothbrush. It's also worth using a scarf around your mouth while outside, so you protect your teeth from the colder air. This will help you keep your mouth at a warmer temperature to avoid the dentin expanding and contracting.
Protecting the enamel by switching acidic food and drink for more neutral options will also help. You should also avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes.
Tooth sensitivity does get worse in the winter due to the way the teeth expand and contract. While you can't completely stop it, you can make it easier to deal with and prevent some of the damage by following the tips above.
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