Cold weather can have an affect on your body. It can affect your heart, bones, skin and your immune system. But many people don't realize that cold outside temperatures can also have an affect on their teeth. This is more common with people who are outside for prolonged periods of time when it is cold, such as runners or roofers. If you were unaware that cold temperatures could impact your teeth, you may have many questions swirling around in your mind right now. Here are a few questions you may be asking yourself and the answers.
Why Does Cold Winter Weather Affect Your Teeth?
Your teeth are exposed to a variety of temperature extremes on an everyday basis. You may drink hot coffee or eat cold ice cream. As your teeth are exposed to these different temperature extremes, they slowly expand and contract. When you eat, your teeth are exposed to these temperature differences for very short periods of time. However, when you are outdoors in these temperature extremes, they are exposed to those differences for a longer stretch of time. Over time, this expansion and contraction for extended periods of time can lead to either thermal stress or dentin hypersensitivity in teeth.
What are the Signs of Thermal Stress on Teeth?
When your teeth are exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time, thermal stress can occur. This causes small cracks in the teeth that can extend all the way up to the gum line. In some cases, these cracks are visible. However, the majority of the time, these cracks are so small that you cannot see them. They will continue to grow if not treated, so it is important to know what the signs are and see a dentist if you have any of the signs of thermal stress. Some of the signs of thermal stress include:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold items while eating and drinking
- Pain while chewing on the affected tooth
- Prolonged tooth pain
What are the Signs of Dentin Hypersensitivity?
Another potential problem that can arise if you expose your teeth to cold weather for prolonged periods of time is dentin hypersensitivity. If you have a gum condition, such as receding gyms or gingivitis, being in the cold can trigger this condition. When you have gum conditions, the dentin in your teeth is more likely to be exposed or accessible which is what causes this issue. Unfortunately, dentin hypersensitivity cannot be completely cured. But, you should see a dentist if you are having signs of this condition to rule out other dental problems and to come up with a plan to help minimize the symptoms. Some of the signs of dentin hypersensitivity include:
- Localized sharp or throbbing pain when you are in extreme weather conditions or are eating hot or cold foods
- Swelling or puffiness around the gum line after being in cold temperatures
- More pain when pressure is applied to the sensitive area
How Can Teeth Be Protected in the Cold?
If you enjoy participating in cold weather activities, or work outdoors, you can't avoid the cold. However, you can protect your teeth when you are outside in extremely cold weather. Protecting your teeth can help prevent thermal stress and dentin hypersensitivity.
One of the best ways you can protect your teeth while you are outdoors during the winter months is by covering your mouth region. Both face masks and balaclavas help to keep your mouth region warm when it is cold out. Another way to protect your teeth is to avoid drinking warm beverages while you are in the cold. While the warm drink may help to warm you up, the temperature extreme can prove to be too much too quickly, leading to cracks in your teeth. Go indoors and let your mouth warm up a bit before shocking it with hot foods and beverages.
Most people are unaware that freezing cold temperatures can affect their teeth. If you go outdoors often in the winter months, you will want to learn what can happen to your teeth, how you can protect your teeth and what signs indicate you need to see your dentist for potential tooth problems caused by cold winter weather.
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