Winter is upon us, and it's time to endure everything that it brings. It's the time of year where we bundle up with gloves, hats and heavy coats to keep ourselves warm. But most of us probably don't consider how the cold, dry winter air impacts our oral health. During the wintertime, a number of symptoms and conditions can appear in the mouth due to the weather conditions. If you've experienced oral discomfort since the temperatures have dropped, continue reading on.
How Is Winter Different for Oral Health?
Low temperatures and dry air plague us for months on end during the winter. This is the most obvious issue you face with oral health. Like other rigid materials, the enamel of your teeth contracts and expands with each change in temperature. Couple this with the fact that there is far less moisture in the air and your oral health can be in jeopardy. Another factor that many people suffer from in the winter is Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a common winter ailment that's caused by a lack of regular sunlight, fewer social connections and other wintertime factors. However, it impacts your oral health as well.
Oral Health Challenges During Cold Weather Months
Because of the challenges of winter weather, several oral health issues can manifest. Let's take a look at what they are.
Tooth Sensitivity and Pain
It's common to experience sharp pain when eating hot or cold foods, or drinking these types of beverages. However, tooth sensitivity and pain during cold weather months happens for a different reason. As you go between warm indoor air into the cold outdoor air, your teeth contract microscopically. This puts added presser on tooth nerves and pulls your teeth slightly away from the underlying bone. In the majority of cases, this is temporary discomfort. However, in more extreme cases, it can result in tooth loss or fractures. To help avoid this, try to keep your mouth closed when making major temperature transitions. You can also wear a mask or scarf that will keep the cold air from entering your mouth.
Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
Dry Mouth is common among seniors and people who take certain medications. It can be even worse in the winter due to dehydration-inducing dry air. When your mouth becomes dry, it impacts the ability to combat bacterial infection due to the lack of saliva production. Saliva lubricates all oral functions and keeps plaque production under control when coupled with regular brushing.
Sores in the Mouth
Dehydration causes our mouths to be exposed to more germs. This can cause canker sores and cold sores during the winter months. Canker sores aren't contagious like cold sores are, but they both put added stress on our immune systems, which are already working to fight off other illnesses during the winter.
For adult women, temporomandibular joint disorders are common. However, they are not directly caused by cold weather. Similarly to arthritis and other disorders of the joints, cold weather and drops in barometric pressure can make symptoms more severe. In extreme cases, jaw discomfort can spread into neck aches, headaches and toothaches. In the most extreme cases, it can impact jaw movement to the point where it becomes difficult to talk, chew or breathe.
How to Maintain Proper Winter Oral Health
If you find yourself dealing with any of these winter oral health conditions, or if you are experiencing any other issues with oral health that is causing discomfort, don't hesitate to visit Your Dental Office in Toronto. While it's not likely that cold winter weather will lead to any serious problems with oral health, if you ignore symptoms it could lead to issues down the road. The sooner you take care of the issues that you're experiencing, the more you'll be able to enjoy the rest of the winter.
Now that you understand the effects of winter weather on your oral health, there's no better time to head in for a checkup. There are many cold months yet ahead this winter. Talk to your dentist about other ways to protect your oral health while braving the frigid temperatures. Contact us today to book an appointment and learn more about keeping your oral health in check this winter.