HOW TO PROTECT TEETH DURING WINTERS?
The cold days of winter bring along a lot of joy, fun, and happiness. From the holiday season to delicious food, and from ice-skating to skiing, who doesn't enjoy winter activities?
The arrival of winters is an extensive change of weather. Though the chilly months are full of pleasure, the drop in the temperature impacts your health. Cold weather brings several problems such as dry skin, chapped lips, cold sores, etc. Winter is also infamous for being the weather of flu, infections, irritated throats, and cough and cold. However, most of the time, we overlook how the change in the weather could affect our dental health.
The bacteria and germs causing flu and infections during winters can cause teeth and gum problems. You may experience dental problems like sensitivity, pain, or discomfort. But, with preventive measures and care, you can avoid oral problems due to winter. As the rest of the body needs extra care during winters, so do our teeth and gums. First, let us understand how the cold weather can affect our oral health.
Effects Of Cold Weather On Oral Health
The whipping winds and the dry air of the winter months can worsen your oral well-being. Without proper dental hygiene and care, you may develop the following conditions that can be painful and can cause discomfort.
You may experience pain in your teeth in cold weather. When your teeth are prone to extreme heat or cold, they expand and shrink.
It leads to cracks over time in your teeth and exposes the microscopic tube below your tooth enamel. The layer beneath the enamel is known as 'dentin,' and it is the core of your teeth. While the enamel covers the top of the dentin, the bottom part is covered by the gums. This dentin has a cover of nerve fibers. And any damage to the enamel or gums leads makes you vulnerable to pain in cold weather. This pain is the same when you get cavities and gum diseases.
Dry mouth season is a very common condition as the air during winters doesn't have moisture. For protection from chilly winds, many people stay indoors with heaters running continuously in the surroundings. Problems like cold and flu lead to a stuffy nose, due to which breathing happens through the mouth. All these things result in the drying out of your mouth.
Having a dry mouth indicates that there is less production of saliva.
But you should know that saliva plays a vital role in protecting your teeth from decay. According to the American Dental Association, Saliva is referred to as the "bloodstream of the mouth." Similar to blood, saliva promotes oral health and repairs the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. When the production of saliva decreases, it paves the way for tooth decay and oral infections. If you already have an oral health condition of dry mouth, winter's dryness can worsen it.
Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small sores that develop at the base of your gums or on the soft tissue of your mouth. Most canker sores are oval or round with a yellow or white colored center and a red edge. Canker sores aren't contagious. However, they can be uncomfortable and make tasks such as eating and talking troublesome for you.
The problem of canker sources happens mainly during the winter season. Due to the dry hair during the winters, the soft tissue in the mouth becomes more vulnerable to infections and wounds. It is because of the reduced amount of saliva that washes away the food particles and infection-causing bacteria from the mouth. Besides, exposure to cold weather affects the immune system of the body, leaving your mouth prone to conditions such as canker sores.
During winters, your teeth may become more sensitive to heat and cold food items. Along with food and beverages, even cold air can cause pain in the teeth, especially if you already have a condition of sensitivity. When the cold air gets into your mouth, different layers of your teeth contract. Many times the speed of contraction of the outer enamel and inner dentin differs. It stresses your teeth and leads to sensitivity. The other reason for discomfort in your teeth is the wear and tear of the enamel. It may happen due to constant teeth grinding whenever you are outside and feeling cold.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in keeping your teeth strong and healthy. Its primary source is sunlight. During winters, there is an insufficient supply of sunlight that your body absorbs. It is mainly because most of the time is spent indoors. These reduced levels of vitamin D may affect the development of your teeth, leading to increased sensitivity.
The immune system of your body weakens in the winter season if you get a cold and flu. Due to this, the growth of bacteria in the mouth grows manifold, leading to infections in the gums. In this problem, your gums may be bleeding, painful, or become swollen.
The infections of the mouth are mainly due to bacteria. And the people who don't visit the dentist regularly are likely to develop gum infections. Though it's also possible to get fungal and viral infections, gum-related conditions like sores and cranks are generally bacterial. Some of the symptoms of gum infections are bad taste, loose teeth, swelling, swollen lymph nodes, painful chewing, etc.
Painful jaws during the winter may indicate a condition known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Due to cold weather, your joints and muscles may become stiff. The same applies to your jaw. The muscles that connect the jaw and cheekbones are called the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). These enable you to move your jaw. When TMJ undergoes a lot of pressure, it can cause muscle fatigue. The strain on these muscles could be due to bruxism, teeth grinding, trauma or arthritis.
The pain due to TMD is often below the cheekbones. Other common symptoms of the temporomandibular disorder include:
Soreness or discomfort in the jaw
Pain spreading behind eyes, shoulder, neck, or back
Limited mouth movement
Teeth grinding and clenching
Protecting Teeth During Winters
Whether it's summer or winter, it's essential to follow your dental care routine to ensure oral wellbeing. However, the chilling winds of the winter season require you to take some special care. Let's dive into the habits that will protect your teeth during winter.
Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing and flossing your teeth should be a part of your everyday oral hygiene routine. But during winters, it is necessary to make a few changes in your way of brushing. First of all, make sure that you switch to a toothbrush with soft bristles. Hard bristles can damage your teeth and lead to cavities and tooth decay. While brushing, use gentle strokes to clean your teeth, and don't be harsh. Otherwise, it may damage your enamel.
If you suffer from sensitivity, change your toothpaste and get the one intended for sensitive teeth. A sensitive toothpaste covers the damaged enamel that exposes the dentinal nerves and restores the enamel over time. The winter season may make you feel lazy but do not skip brushing twice a day and flossing once.
If you brush your teeth right after eating, don't do it. Wait for some time, preferably 30 minutes to 1 hour. The acids present in your food may weaken the tooth enamel, and its effect stays for a while after you eat. By waiting for some time, you can prevent your tooth enamel from damaging.
During winters, people don't drink as much water as they do in summers. It is because the temperature outside is low and they don't realize that they should drink water. Drinking sufficient water is essential to maintain your oral health. When you drink less water, it causes dehydration in your body. Due to this, less saliva is produced in your mouth. Saliva does the important function of washing away the food particles stuck in between the teeth. It also washes away the bacteria that may cause dental problems. Therefore, less production makes an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria.
Dehydration also causes several problems in your mouth, the most common one being dry mouth. A dry mouth can lead to dental problems such as bad breath, tooth decay, and gum infections. It happens due to lack of saliva as well as consuming hot beverages such as tea and coffee. When you drink tea, coffee, or hot chocolate instead of water during winters, you may feel warm for a while, but actually, it harms your teeth. Not only does it cause dehydration, but also the increased sugar promotes the growth of even more bacteria. Hence, to protect your teeth during the cold weather, you must drink plenty of water.
Watching What You Eat
During winters, you must watch what you are eating and reduce the intake of sugar and acids in your diet. The acids and sugar break down the enamel that protects your teeth and damages their surface. However, this process reverses continuously through saliva. When acids damage the enamel by penetrating the minerals, this process is known as demineralization. And the process of restoring the minerals and strengthening the enamel by saliva is called mineralization. If the sugar consumption is too much, restoration doesn't happen properly, and the teeth get damaged. Hence, it is essential to limit your sugar intake if you want your teeth to replace all the damage.
Along with hot beverages, try to avoid sticky food items during winters. Everyone loves to have caramels, toffees, and pastries during the cooler months, but it can become a huge problem. Such food items get stuck into the hard-to-reach areas in your teeth and promote cavities. Even if you consume sugary food, do not do it multiple times in the day and clean your mouth thoroughly. Otherwise, it may lead to the buildup of plaque and encourage gingivitis. The frequency of sugar intake is as significant as quantities, and sometimes even more.
Caring For Your Gums
Healthy gums are essential for a healthy mouth. The winter season is also the season of cough, cold, and flu. If the bacteria and germs that cause these problems remain on the gums, they can also cause infections or gingivitis. Therefore, you should make sure to take proper care of your gums. Rinse your mouth properly, and use an antibacterial mouthwash. Pay attention to any signs of gum infections like pain or swelling.
Consume food items rich in vitamin C, such as papayas, lemons, grapes, strawberries, etc. These fruits have antioxidants that are healthy for gums and encourage the growth of bones and tissue in the body. You can also rinse your water with saltwater. Using a mouthwash having lukewarm water and salt twice a day will keep inflammation and infections away. Make sure that you massage your gums regularly. Massaging gums ensures blood circulation and prevents the receding of gums. You can also have chewing-gums as it is great for the exercise of gums and jaw. There are many dental chewing gums available in the market that contain Xylitol. It is a sugar replacement that limits the growth of bacteria in your mouth.
Keeping Yourself Warm
Before you step out of your home during winters, always wear a scarf. Don't hesitate to wrap the scarf around your mouth and jaw line to keep warm. It will prevent the exposure of your teeth to cold and protect you from pain due to cold sensitivity. When you don't stay warm, you tend to tense up, clench your jaw and grind your teeth without even realizing it. It often causes the gum line to recede while damaging the enamel and exposing the root structure of teeth.
The harsh winds of winter can also cause cold sores. When your lips dry out, they become more vulnerable to a virus that causes cold sores. And the warm air in the heated homes encourages the virus to spread even more. To avoid cold sores, you must protect the skin around your mouth. Keep the corners of the mouth clean and stay warm to prevent the growth of bacteria. Also, keep your lips moisturized to avoid chapped lips and recover from cold sores.
Visiting Your Dentist
To maintain your oral health, you should visit a dental clinic throughout the year. However, the requirement for dental consultation from time to time increases during the winter months. Exposure to teeth and gums leads to several dental problems. If you get any such problem, getting regular checkups will help in early diagnosis and treatment. If not treated on time, minor dental problems become more troublesome.
The winter season, being the time of cold, cough, and flu, can make you sick. Medicines, cough syrups, and cough drops have a large number of sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup or sugars. These can affect your teeth negatively, especially if you don't brush and floss your teeth daily. Other drugs may contain ingredients like alcohol or citric acid that damages the enamel of your teeth. Hence it becomes essential to get a dentist's appointment to detect any early damage due to cold.
Another reason why it is essential to see a dentist during winters could be poor dental health. Lack of sunlight and cold weather don't make everyone feel good. Around 20% of Americans are troubled by winter because of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is a type of depression that occurs during the winter season. Due to this, people may find it difficult to follow even basic dental care habits.
Poor dental health is also an indication of depression. Hence it's important to take care of your teeth all year long and visit your dentist more frequently during winters. Even if you have any problems such as dental anxiety and depression, it's best to talk with your dentist and convey everything to them.
New Jersey Best Dental Care
Visiting your dentist is a must for maintaining your dental health during winters. It enables you to cure your problems when it has just begun and prevents them from worsening further. But choosing the right dentist for yourself is equally important. Several people have dental anxiety, which holds them back from seeking oral consultation. Your dentist should make you feel comfortable so that you can share your issues with them without any hesitation.
At Jackson Dental, we make sure that your dental examination is at utmost comfort. With us, you get patient-centric care in a cozy and comfortable setting. We are familiar with the fact that your dental appointments can be overwhelming and make you anxious. Our highly skilled and experienced dental team makes the process easier and convenient for you. We don't leave any stone unturned to ensure your comfort. We are the go-to dental clinic for all your family members and strive to be the best dental clinic in New Jersey.
Whether it is a regular dental appointment or you are looking for affordable and Cheap dental implants in New Jersey, we have got you covered. Our ultra-modern facilities allow us to examine your oral conditions thoroughly and provide the best effective solutions so that you can be stress-free. Don't let the cold weather hold you back from enjoying your life to the fullest. Prepare yourself for the winters and maintain your dental health with Best Dentist in New Jersey Jackson Dental.
More Tips To Remember
During winters, avoid breathing through your mouth. Conditions like cough and flu may make you breathe through your mouth instead of your nose. When you breathe through your nose, it doesn't let the cold air hit your teeth.
Wear a mouth guard when you go out. Staying outside for long periods in winter can make you feel cold and your teeth may start chattering. It happens without your realization and damages the enamel of your teeth.
Do not over brush your teeth. Brushing teeth several times a day and for too long doesn't make them extra cleaner but damages the surface of the tooth and wears away the enamel. The American Dental Hygienists’ Association recommends brushing for not more than 2-3 minutes, at least twice a day.
Rinse and gargle more in winter. One of the typical symptoms of flu is nausea and vomiting. When you vomit, all the bile juice collected in your stomach comes out through your mouth. Some of its residues stay back in your dental cavity. If it is not cleaned, this residual acid can adversely affect your dental health.
Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste or plain toothpaste that does not have granules. Granules in the toothpaste are abrasive and cause sensitivity. Whereas, fluoride in toothpaste strengthens the enamel.
Do not consume anything very cold. In winters, there are high chances of frostbite in your mouth. It happens when you bite an ice cream in the winter season. It is a condition in which the tissues of your body get injured when exposed to extreme cold.
Keep your toothbrush clean. Also, replace your toothbrush every three months as it can become a storehouse of bacteria that can cause gingivitis and other dental problems. You should also replace your toothbrush after recovering from illness, cold, or flu as it may be still contaminated with the bacteria and virus.
Go for sugar-free substitutes. If you contract any conditions such as cold or flu, make sure that you get sugar-free medicines. Whether it is cough syrup or cough drops, ask the pharmacist to give you sugar-free medicines that are not hard on your teeth.
Your mouth is the reflection of your whole body. In winters, when you see your skin becomes dry or your lips become chapped, you apply a hydrating moisturizer. Similarly, your oral care routine also calls for some extra effort so that your teeth stay healthy. No matter what the weather is, it is essential to take care of your oral health throughout the year. But winters also change your habits and hinder your daily routine. Without even realizing it, you drink less water, consume more caffeine, consume sugary food items, and sometimes feel too dull to brush due to the cold. The winds of winter are extra harsh and may cause problems such as pain, gum infections, sensitivity, etc. Even a little exposure to chilly air outside can worsen any prevailing conditions. You must take an extra step to keep your teeth healthy and protect them from damage and decay, as the winter arrives. Let the dentist be your best friend and help you maintain your oral health in the winter. Small habits such as brushing and flossing may not take too much of your time daily but will keep your teeth healthy in the long run.