Chilly winter weather is going strong. Sledding, skating and snowmen are among the most enjoyable winter hobbies. Winter can bring grins, but the frigid temps can trigger mouth problems.
Much like a snowflake, each person’s set of teeth is unique. Some are sensitive to cold air, while others get dry mouth. If your smile is prone to winter woes, you don’t have to feel like you’re trapped in a snow globe!
Here’s how to deal with common winter tooth troubles:
Tooth Sensitivity: Sensitive teeth are common during the chillier months. The problem is usually due to exposed dentin, making teeth more vulnerable to pain. Winter staples such as hot drinks and cold air can further aggravate tender teeth.
Try This: Breathing in the crisp air can make teeth even more sensitive. If you’re outside, try breathing through your nose and out through your mouth. Your lips, tongue and cheek will keep your chattering teeth insulated. Tooth sensitivity can also be due to a loss of enamel on your teeth’s surface from things like brushing too hard. Always use a soft-bristled brush and avoid highly acidic foods and drinks like soda and sticky candy. Call your dentist if your tooth sensitivity continues.
Dry Mouth: Winter seems to be the season we all come down with colds. When you have a cold, your nose is stuffed up, forcing you to breathe through your mouth, which can lead to dry mouth. Tobacco use, mouthwashes with alcohol and certain over-the-counter medications can also dry out your mouth. With colder temperatures outside, we typically run the furnace in our homes more which also dries out already dry winter air. And a dry mouth can increase your chance of developing dental decay and other mouth infections.
Try This: Drink water regularly and chew sugarless gum to keep your mouth moist. You should also try limiting your caffeine intake, use of tobacco products, and anything that contains alcohol, including mouthwashes containing alcohol. You can also try adding a humidifier to your home or bedroom since winter air is typically warmer. If you experience dry mouth year-round, make an appointment with your dentist.
Lack of Vitamin D: Extreme temperatures can keep us stuck inside. With less outdoor time, you’re decreasing your daily dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in keeping your teeth and bones healthy. A more severe lack of vitamin D can also cause more serious medical issues. Exposure to sunlight enables the body to produce vitamin D.
Try This: If the dreary winter weather is hindering your natural dose of vitamin D, try snacking on fortified cereals, fatty fish, or other food high in vitamin D. Open all the curtains and blinds in your home to let in as much sunlight during the day as possible. And when the cold breaks outside on certain days, go outside for a short walk or enjoy some winter activities like sledding, snowshoeing, walking the dog, or making a snowman to get some added sunshine and exercise. You can also supplement your diet with vitamin D pills, but always consult your physician before starting a supplement regimen.
As always, consult with your dentist and be sure to get to get two annual dental check-ups . And be sure to enjoy these last months of winter and keep up with your oral health routine for a smile that sparkles like snow!
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