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Why Do My Teeth Hurt When It's Cold Outside?

Young woman experiencing teeth sensitivity

Are your teeth feeling a bit sensitive these days? Having sore teeth in the winter is an extremely common complaint this time of year. Even if you’re only outside for brief periods of time your teeth may still be uncomfortable.

You may even notice that your teeth are more sensitive in the winter season when you enjoy things like hot coffee or ice cream.

Why do your teeth hurt so much this time of year? As it turns out, there are several factors that affect tooth sensitivity.

Why Teeth Hurt in the Winter

Your teeth might look like pieces of solid bone but they’re actually far more complex than that. Teeth are made up of two layers: the outer clear or white layer of insulating enamel and the inner dark yellow layer of sensitive dentin. There’s a hollow space within the dentin that houses nerves and blood vessels that nurture your teeth.

That nerve inside each tooth is very sensitive to temperature changes. Your tooth dentin layer has pores, or channels inside it, that constrict in cold temperatures and expand in hot ones.

When the weather turns cool, your teeth contact cold air more and more often. Cold exposure in itself can make your tooth nerves zing with discomfort. But your teeth may also ache from the frequent pore constriction in your tooth tissue. This constricting action can even create microscopic fractures in your enamel which allows more cold temperatures to reach the sensitive tooth nerves.

The cold weather itself may not be the only reason for your aching teeth, however. You may have other conditions with symptoms that get worse in cold temperatures this time of year.

Tooth Sensitivity Caused By Gum Recession

One major cause of tooth sensitivity is gum recession. Often occurring as a result of aging or gum disease, receding gums expose tooth roots which don’t have an insulating layer of enamel to protect them. Your tooth roots depend on your gums for protection and warmth, so without them, your teeth will be stingingly sensitive in cold weather.

Enamel Loss Makes Teeth More Sensitive to Cold Weather

Tooth enamel covers over those sensitive pores in the dentin layer. Enamel insulates the rest of the tooth this way and regulates the temperature severity the tooth nerve experiences.

So if you lose some of your enamel, you will definitely know it as your teeth become much more sensitive.

Some causes of enamel loss include:

● Acid exposure that dissolves enamel ● Enamel erosion from rough tooth brushing ● Teeth grinding ● Tooth decay ● Incorrect teeth bleaching technique

Get Relief for Sensitive Teeth in the Winter

What can you do about your sensitive teeth?

Fluoride products can help you get some relief. Fluoride is a mineral that reinforces the existing enamel layer and patches up weak spots. It also prevents enamel from being weakened by cavity-causing bacteria.

Sensitivity toothpaste can also help. It adds another layer of protection to areas that have already lost a lot of enamel.

Finally, you need to consider the possibility that you need dental treatment. Your sensitivity could be due to serious dental problems like decay, exposed roots, or fracture. Getting those issues treated can resolve your tooth sensitivity.

Seeing a dentist in Tacoma is a good way to start your search for sensitive teeth relief. Dr. Duke Bui has helped countless patients get relief from this “biting” cold weather! Schedule a smile consultation with Dr. Bui and learn more about how you can prevent sensitive teeth this winter.

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