Winter can present a challenge to our bodies. From dry skin and chapped lips to joint pain and flu season, most of us know that we need to pay special attention to our health during this time of year. But you may not know that winter weather also affects our oral health. In fact, during cold weather our teeth actually expand and contract, and that can lead to tiny cracks forming in your teeth. That, in turn, can lead to increased sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks. People who already suffer from sensitivity – usually caused by gum disease, worn enamel, receding gums or tooth decay – already know the pain and discomfort this can cause. But even if you have healthy teeth and gums, you can still experience tooth sensitivity during the winter months.
Here are a few wintertime dental care tips that can help your teeth get through this cold time of year:
- Be consistent with your oral hygiene routine. Make sure to brush twice a day and floss at least once a day. You might consider using a water flosser as well. The better your daily oral hygiene routine is, the less susceptible you’ll be to developing sensitive teeth and gums.
- Don’t clench or grind your teeth. Clenching your teeth during the day, or grinding them at night, wears down the enamel, and worn enamel is one of the leading causes of sensitivity. Although we’re all vulnerable to increased tooth sensitivity during the winter months, worn enamel will only make the problem worse.
- See your dentist regularly. We should all visit the dentist at least twice a year for routine exams and professional cleanings, but if you experience any type of toothache, it’s especially important to see you dentist right away. Tooth decay and other dental issues can lead to increased sensitivity.
- Postpone teeth whitening. Some of the ingredients in tooth whitening products may increase your tooth sensitivity. If you are already feeling sensitive to hot and cold drinks, you may want to postpone whitening until you resolve the sensitivity issue.
- Use a toothpaste intended for sensitive teeth. If you haven’t used this type of product before, you may be surprised how effective it can be. Usually, you’ll notice a marked improvement after just a few days of using a sensitivity toothpaste. There are several brands on the market, so if you’re not sure which is best for you, ask your dentist for a recommendation.
If you’ve noticed some discomfort in your teeth and gums during the winter months, it’s not your imagination! We all need to pay extra attention to our health during this time of year, and that includes our teeth and gums.