Winter weather can cause toothache when the cold leads to tiny cracks appearing in your teeth. These hairline fissures weaken the protection normally afforded by tooth enamel to the nerve-laden dentin underneath it.
The cracks are caused by your teeth responding to changes in temperature. When cold air enters your mouth, your teeth contract. When the temperature inside your mouth warms up, your teeth expand. This process can lead to crevices in the enamel that are so small you probably won’t notice them.
However, you may well notice the end result: tooth pain as the cold air hits the sensitive nerve fibres in the dentin – over-sensitivity similar to that caused by cold foods or drinks.
One of the easiest ways to guard against toothache in cold weather is to breathe through your nose rather than your mouth. Another way to help prevent tooth sensitivity in winter weather is to avoid clenching your jaw – a typical reaction in some people as they try to stay warm during a cold spell by tensing up in general.
How to Combat Cold-Weather Toothache & Sensitivity
A long-term solution in minimizing tooth pain in cold weather is to ensure you maintain a solid routine of oral hygiene and cut back on sugary drinks and foods.
Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily and floss at least once a day. Use a soft-bristle brush to avoid damaging your gums or eroding tooth enamel. Many fluoridated toothpastes are specially designed to lessen tooth sensitivity with regular use. Using a fluoride mouthwash every day will also help to form a protective coating over sensitive areas of your teeth.
Toothache in cold conditions can also be caused by gum problems. If your gums start to recede, the dentin underneath that area will become vulnerable. Good oral hygiene will help to ward of the bacteria that cause gum infections through an accumulation of plaque and tartar.
While foods and drinks high in sugar can destroy tooth enamel by providing sustenance for acid-producing bacteria, others are beneficial for your gums, including dairy products and crunchy foods that remove plaque and particles of food.
Regular check-ups will enable your dentist to detect any problems before they become serious issues.
What to Do if Your Toothache Persists
Being porous, your teeth are naturally sensitive but should be able to tolerate cold weather with little or no irritation.
If your tooth sensitivity persists for more than a few days during a cold snap, it’s a good idea to ask Kitchener & Waterloo Emergency and Non-Emergency Dental Services to look for underlying problems that you may not know about.
Over-sensitivity of teeth can be a warning sign of problems such as gum disease or tooth decay. Besides cavities and gum infection, tooth pain during cold weather can also indicate issues like failing fillings and crowns, or incorrect bite function resulting in teeth grinding.