After a particularly mild winter so far, the papers are promising that an Arctic front is on its way, supposedly bringing freezing temperatures and some much-awaited snow fall. Whilst many people love the beauty of frosty mornings and fresh snow, others struggle with the cold. Some people complain of sudden attacks of toothache in wintry weather - so is this normal and should you worry? Let’s take a closer look.
How temperature changes affect our teeth
The human body has a built-in temperature control system. It ensures vital organs and systems are kept at a perfect 37℃. Unless things go wrong, this temperature is maintained almost all of the time. Our blood and bodily fluids all stay at this temperature, including the saliva in our mouths. The result is that our teeth effectively have a nice warm blanket to protect them.
If, however, we shock our teeth by eating an ice-cream or sipping a scalding hot tea or coffee, it is normal to experience a sudden sensation of pain due to the sudden change in temperature. To replicate this, place your hands under a hot tap after throwing some snowballs or scraping the windscreen - a similar thing occurs.
Breathing in a mouthful of cold air can have exactly the same effect. This can be exacerbated if, for example, you have just finished a hot coffee with your breakfast.
What causes increased sensitivity?
Even people with completely healthy teeth can experience pain in response to cold air. Extreme discomfort, however, can be experienced if you have defects in your teeth. Damaged fillings are a major culprit. They cause the sensitive inner layers of the tooth to be exposed to cold air, whilst defective crowns or bridges also leave sensitive parts of the tooth exposed. Another common cause is having cracks in the teeth. Remember that teeth are porous, so even the slightest surface damage can have a significant effect.
If you find that you experience prolonged or severe pain on a regular basis when the weather is cold, it is possible that you have a tooth defect that may require dental treatment. We’d recommend you arrange a dental health assessment in order to catch any problems as early as possible. Chris, Janet or one of our hygiene team can also advise you on the best way to care for sensitive teeth if this is a problem you suffer from.
Problems with your gums
Your gums also play a vital role in your oral health. They can be behind your tooth pain in cold weather. Periodontal disease is a fairly common problem and left untreated can lead to recessed gums. This leaves the sensitive base of the teeth exposed. This is a very sensitive area of the tooth and if exposed directly to cold air will almost certainly cause noticeable discomfort.
The effects of low temperatures can also be exaggerated by other infections of the gums. Your dental examination will involve a thorough check of both your teeth and gums so it is highly recommended to contact us to book an appointment if you do have concerns.
If you have large gaps caused by missing teeth, you may well be experiencing a lot of discomfort in cold weather. This is because a missing tooth can leave the inside edges of the teeth around it exposed to low temperatures. Large metal fillings can become very cold and affect the surrounding tooth in a similar way. There are many options for replacing missing teeth, with dental implants often proving to be an effective and reliable solution.
Be tooth aware
If you experience any discomfort or pain in your teeth on a regular basis, this is a sign that your teeth and gums may be in need of attention and we would recommend that you come and see us as soon as possible for a dental health assessment. Even if you are prone to sensitive teeth, it’s worth seeing your dentist to rule out any other possible problems that may have developed. Regular dental visits are the best way by far to make sure that you keep your teeth and smile in the best possible condition and avoid future problems.
To get professional advice from the team here at Field House Dental Practice or to book an appointment now, call us on 01892 782300.