Colorado Springs gets fabulous winter weather, and this year we’ve already had several significant snowstorms! Of course, in true Colorado fashion, in just a couple days all that snow melts away. Did you know large swings in outdoor temperature can cause tooth sensitivity for some people? Let’s dig into how this happens, why it happens, and what you can do about it.
Winter Temperatures Change Teeth
Although your teeth seem unchanging, they actually expand and shrink slightly with various temperatures. As you expose your teeth to very hot air or food they expand. When your teeth come in contact with cold foods or temperatures, they contract. These changes are minor, and you may never even notice them. However, quick changes in temperature can make it easier for hairline cracks to form in your dentin, the body of your teeth. This is especially true if you have metal fillings as the expansion and contraction of metal happens at a slightly different speed than bone. As your fillings pull away from your teeth, the sensitive nerves in the dentin are exposed, causing painful sensitivity.
You may wonder why you are just beginning to have trouble with this type of tooth sensitivity when you’ve lived in a similar climate your whole life. A recent study on extracted teeth from children, young adults, and older adults shows that the younger the tooth, the more tolerant it was to the effects of heat. This means you may be more likely to experience problems as you get older.
Identifying the Problem
So, if you’ve suddenly started experiencing tooth sensitivity, how do you know if Jack Frost is to blame? There are many things that can cause tooth sensitivity, but your dentist can help you find a root cause. Your dentist will want to take X-rays and do an oral exam. They will check for signs that you’ve been grinding your teeth or signs of gum recession. It is likely that your dentist will only determine your tooth sensitivity is from cold weather once they’ve eliminated most other common causes.
Preventing Tooth Sensitivity
There’s not much you can do to prevent cracks from temperature changes. Obviously, keep your mouth closed when you’re outside in really cold weather when possible. Additionally, proper oral hygiene can help keep your gums from receding which will cause tooth sensitivity. Also, remove any food debris between teeth with dental floss regularly. Food can make the contact points between teeth stressed, and as your teeth change temperature they could increase the pressure on your teeth.
Resolving Tooth Sensitivity
If you have an older filling that is made out of an outdated material, or if the filling seems worn out, your dentist may recommend replacing the filling. You may consider choosing a new material that flexes more naturally with bone. If your tooth sensitivity isn’t near a filling, your dentist will likely recommend switching to sensitive toothpaste for awhile. Additionally, they may apply a varnish in the office to help repair the crack in the enamel and cover the sensitive nerve endings.
If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity and you’re not sure why, give us a call at 719-633-8766! We have same-day emergency appointments available in Colorado Springs.