A common complaint during the cold winter season is sensitive teeth. One out of eight people report tooth sensitivity, and that seems to get worse during the winter. Sensitivity can be caused by several things… receding gums, clenching or grinding, cracked teeth, cavities, thin or weakened enamel, or bruising from trauma.
When the tooth’s enamel wears, or the gums recede, tiny tubes in the dentin are exposed. These tubes are filled with something called dentinal fluid. Sensitivity can be caused by the stimulation of that fluid and the person will normally experience short, sharp pain when those areas are exposed to hot or cold temperatures.
We all learned in science class that heat expands and cold contracts. This principle also applies to our teeth. Our teeth experience frequent temperature changes (as much as 120°F) due to food, beverages and even air temperature. The different layers in our teeth expand and contract at different rates, which can cause miniscule cracks in the enamel. These cracks aren’t normally visible and aren’t cause for serious concern, but they do increase sensitivity.
Sinus and allergies are also a factor, especially during winter months. Your upper teeth are often touching your sinus cavities. Pain and pressure in your sinus cavity can be mistaken for tooth pain, and sometimes tooth infections can be mistaken for sinus pain. Also, when experiencing congestion, people tend to breathe through their mouth, leading to sensitivity and gum inflammation.
So what can you do? The first step is to see Dr. Kifer regularly and take care of cavities, larger cracks, and gum disease as quickly as possible. We may recommend prescription strength fluoride toothpaste or rinses for sensitivity.