As the temperatures drop this winter, many of us find ourselves bracing not just against the cold air but also against the increased sensitivity in our teeth that often accompanies it. At Kew Gardens Smiles, we understand how seasonal changes can affect oral health, particularly when it comes to dental sensitivity. This February, we’re offering a Winter Smile Survival Guide to help our patients combat the discomfort of cold weather dental sensitivity and maintain a healthy, happy smile throughout the season.
Understanding Dental Sensitivity
Dental sensitivity, or dentin hypersensitivity, occurs when the protective enamel on the teeth wears down, exposing the dentin layer. This layer has microscopic tubules leading to the tooth’s nerve center. When exposed to extreme temperatures—like the cold air of winter—these tubules can transmit the sensation directly to the nerves, causing sharp, temporary pain.
Causes of Increased Winter Sensitivity
Several factors can contribute to increased dental sensitivity in the winter:
- Exposure to Cold Air: Just breathing in cold air can trigger sensitivity in weakened teeth.
- Changes in Temperature: Moving from the outdoor cold into warm indoor environments can cause teeth to expand and contract, potentially leading to micro-cracks and increased sensitivity.
- Seasonal Illnesses: Colds, flu, and sinus infections common in winter can lead to sinus pressure that exacerbates tooth pain.
- Dry Mouth: Indoor heating can reduce humidity and cause a dry mouth, reducing saliva production that normally protects against tooth decay and sensitivity.
Tips for Managing Dental Sensitivity in Winter
- Use Desensitizing Toothpaste: These toothpastes contain compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. Regular use can significantly reduce sensitivity.
- Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Brushing with a soft-bristled brush, flossing gently, and using fluoride mouthwash can help maintain enamel strength and reduce sensitivity.
- Wear a Scarf: Covering your mouth with a scarf can help protect your teeth from the painful effects of cold air.
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps maintain saliva production, which is crucial for protecting enamel and preventing decay.
- Avoid Acidic Foods and Beverages: These can exacerbate enamel erosion and sensitivity. Opt for less acidic options when possible.
- Visit Your Dentist Regularly: Regular check-ups at Kew Gardens Smiles can help catch and address any issues that may be contributing to sensitivity, such as cavities or enamel wear.
Professional Treatments for Severe Sensitivity
For those experiencing severe sensitivity, professional treatments are available at Kew Gardens Smiles. Options may include fluoride varnishes to strengthen enamel, bonding to cover exposed roots, or even fitting for a mouthguard to prevent teeth grinding, which can lead to sensitivity.
Don’t let dental sensitivity put a chill on your winter enjoyment. By understanding the causes of sensitivity and taking proactive steps to protect your teeth, you can enjoy the season pain-free. Remember, the team at Kew Gardens Smiles is here to help you navigate any dental concerns that arise, offering personalized advice and treatment options to keep your smile bright and healthy all year round.