What It Means When Cold Weather Makes Your Teeth Hurt

Teeth play a significant role in our digestive system. They are the first to come into contact with food and grind it up for you. But teeth can also have sensitivities to cold and hot foods. For example, you might bite into an ice cream only to feel a searing pain in your front tooth. The same can happen when you bite into your favorite minestrone soup. It's not just the process of eating that can bring your teeth pain, however. Cold weather can also affect your sensitive teeth due to expansion and contraction or loss of enamel.

According to the Oral Health Foundation, the twinge from sensitive teeth can last for a few minutes or hours. You might also experience mild pain or severe discomfort that has you reaching for an over-the-counter painkiller. They also noted sensitive teeth are more prominent in women than men, and those between 20 and 40 are most affected. While the cold might trigger, sensitive teeth typically come from brushing too hard, dental erosion, tooth grinding, and gum disease. It's always best to check with your dentist to ensure your intolerance to cold isn't something more sinister.

Get the deets on teeth by looking at how the natural expansion and loss of enamel on your teeth can make you sensitive to cold weather. Learning to cope with the elements is essential to keep your teeth happy.

Exposed dentin makes your teeth sensitive to cold

Your teeth are made of different parts; the first line of defense against cold and warm is the enamel on your teeth. According to WebMD, enamel is a thin outer covering on teeth that protects your teeth as you chew, bite, and grind food. It's actually the toughest shell in the human body. But over time, enamel can erode. This exposes the dentin of the tooth. Dentin is the sensitive part of the tooth, giving it a white color. It's also the layer protecting the dental pulp cavity where the nerves and blood vessels are located.

Tooth enamel is tough but susceptible to specific things you put in your mouth daily. Therefore, it can erode way when you consume too many acidic soft drinks or fruit juices. Sour foods and candy are also culprits of eroding enamel (per WebMD). Diseases can also influence your tooth enamel. For example, those with gastrointestinal issues might have stomach acid that reaches the mouth and enamel. Medications you're taking can also be the offender. Hove Dental notes dentinal sclerosis can also lead to weak teeth due to calcifying dentinal tubes.

Expansion and contraction of teeth in cold weather

When heading outside on a cold winter day, you keep your fingers, toes, and head covered with warm material. But you probably don't think too much of your teeth. According to Pickett Family Dental, cold weather can make your teeth expand. In fact, they noted front teeth can change as much as 120 degrees during temperature changes. The expanding and contracting of your teeth from warm to cold air create tiny cracks within the enamel. These aren't cracks that will have you running out to see your dentist, but they are enough to make your teeth sensitive enough to gasp when cold air hits them.

Beyond just the normal movement of your teeth, fillings, and hardware in your mouth can worsen the stinging cold. For example, Stonebrook Family Dental noted that cold weather makes crowns more brittle. Since crowns are composed of porcelain, they can shrink when exposed to extreme cold. Therefore, any area around the crown becomes exposed and painful. This is also true of those with fillings. Since some of the enamel was removed to add the filling, your tooth feels pain when that area around your tooth is exposed. They also stated cold weather can make the nerve endings in your teeth more sensitive.

How to cope with teeth sensitive to winter

While knowing the reason for your sensitivity to cold is important, finding a way to deal with it can help you in everyday life. When enamel doesn't work against the cold, you have a few options available. Silverado Family Dentistry recommends using toothpaste for sensitive teeth and waiting 30 minutes before you go out in the elements. It's also essential not to eat or drink anything that might wash the protective coating away. They also suggest using a soft-bristle brush to clean teeth. Get a fluoride treatment to strengthen the enamel and make it easier to bear the cold.

Fluoride treatments and toothpaste are great when you have them on hand. But if you need to rush out and don't have time to brush, covering your mouth can be a saving grace. Try putting a scarf around your mouth to keep the cold air from hitting your teeth. Breathing through your nose is another option since your cheeks and lips keep your teeth warm. Silverado also recommends a cup of hot coffee or tea with steam to warm your nose and mouth. However, avoid drinking it hot since hot things can also hurt your teeth.