Do your teeth ever sting when you step outside during the winter? You’re not imagining things. Cold weather triggers the same type of pain you experience from drinking ice water or biting into a scoop of ice cream. Find out what’s to blame for this painful phenomenon and how to prevent it.
Why Do Cold Temperatures Make My Teeth Hurt?
Cold weather sensitivity can occur regardless of your oral health, but you are more likely to experience pain if you have thin or missing enamel. This outer tooth layer protects the dentin beneath it. Dentin is covered in nerve endings, so you are more vulnerable to cold weather pain if the enamel wears away. Dentin is also located below the gum line, so receding gums can cause sensitivity as well.
Even if you have excellent oral health, your teeth are still exposed to massive temperature changes, from 160-degree cups of coffee to subzero blizzard conditions. Your teeth expand and contract following repeated exposure to these extreme temperatures, causing tiny cracks to develop. These cracks don’t affect the structure of your teeth, but they provide a pathway for cold air to reach the nerves deep within the tooth structure.
Reasons for Temperature-Sensitive Teeth
Anything that exposes the dentin layer of your teeth increases your risk for cold temperature sensitivity. Common culprits include:
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Cracked or chipped teeth
- Overzealous brushing and flossing
- Clenching and grinding
- Whitening agents
- Acidic drinks
- Tobacco products
How to Decrease Cold Sensitivity
It’s best to have a dentist determine the precise cause of your tooth sensitivity so you can seek the appropriate treatment. Here are the methods your dentist may recommend:
Your dentist can apply fluoride to your sensitive teeth to strengthen and fortify the enamel. Even simply brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day can reduce tooth sensitivity caused by exposed dentin.
Receding gum treatment:
If you have a receding gum line, your dentist can apply a sealant over the exposed root to protect it from low temperatures. Surgical gum grafting is another option for severely receding gums.
An oral exam may reveal whether you grind your teeth at night. This condition, known as bruxism, can erode tooth enamel and make your gums recede. Wearing a custom mouth guard helps prevent you from damaging your teeth in your sleep.
Buy a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid irritating the gum line and rubbing away tooth enamel.
Toothpaste for sensitive teeth:
With continual use, this over-the-counter product should provide relief from tooth sensitivity.
Root canal procedure:
If deep decay or a cracked or chipped tooth is to blame for temperature sensitivity, this treatment can restore the soft pulp inside your damaged tooth and eliminate your pain.