‘Tis the season! While we’re past the holidays and a few weeks into the New Year, we’re still experiencing the magic of winter. Fortunately, in Houston, it doesn’t get too frosty, but it’s still notably chillier than our balmy summers. However, along with soft sweaters, warm fires, and the comforting sound of occasional rainfall, colder weather brings with it certain oral health concerns. Dr. Craig Armstrong and our team are here for you all four seasons. If you know which winter dental issues you’re likely to face, you can notice and treat them quickly, or even prevent them from occurring altogether! Read on to learn about the top 3 common cold weather conundrums.
1. A sore jaw.
Have you ever noticed your jaw aching in cooler temperatures? This is actually quite a common symptom. Dr. Manny tackles this widespread issue Fox News explains in his article, “Why does my jaw hurt in cold weather?” He explains: “Studies have shown that changes in barometric pressure that often accompany a drop in temperature can trigger pain by causing air pockets throughout your body to expand and/or shrink, putting pressure on the nerves.” This explains why joint pain generally worsens during cold weather. Many of us are familiar with this uncomfortable phenomenon.
What you might not have realized, however, is that your jaw literally hinges on a very important and sensitive joint: your temporomandibular joint, which runs from your temple to your chin, allows you to move your mouth. Dr. Manny writes: “temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMD, are…common in adult women,” and cold weather can exacerbate these. He describes the common symptoms: “earaches, headaches, chewing pain, difficulty opening your mouth, [and] clicking or grating sounds in the joint.” Chatting your teeth on brisk winter walks or “shivering in cold weather can cause the muscles in your jaw to constrict or spasm.”
Dr. Armstrong and our team can perform diagnostic assessments to determine if you suffer from TMD. Once we’ve diagnosed your condition, we offer a variety of treatments to help you restore your joint health.
2. Dry mouth.
Technically known as “xerostomia,” this condition affects many Americans every year. Dry mouth can strike during any season, but it may be more likely to affect you in cold weather because the atmosphere is dryer, and using a heater in your house can remove even more moisture from your surroundings. You may also think less about drinking enough water during the winter than you do during the summertime, when you probably sweat more. In addition to being uncomfortable and unhealthy in its own right, xerostomia can be a gateway to other oral health issues if left untreated. For example, improper saliva flow can leave your mouth more vulnerable to cavities and gum disease, since your spit contains decay-fighting enzymes.
How can you tell if you suffer from dry mouth? Mayo Clinic provides a helpful list of common symptoms:
- “Dryness in your mouth or throat
- Saliva that seems thick and stringy
- Bad breath
- Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing
- A changed sense of taste
- Problems wearing dentures
- More frequent tooth decay
- Gum irritation and gum disease.”
If you’re experiencing any of the above, you should come see Dr. Armstrong for an examination. He can help catch any decay or gingivitis, as well as provide suggestions for treating your dry mouth. This could be as simple as drinking more water or using a humidifier in your home.
3. Tooth sensitivity.
Winter is full of wonderful warm treats, like tea and soup, as well as cooler delights, such as ice cream. With family dinners and coffee dates in abundance, it’s in many ways the worst time of the year to suffer from tooth sensitivity, but this condition is also prevalent in cold weather. Colgate Oral Care Center notes: “that surge of pain you feel when biting into cold foods might seem to be ever-present during the cold winter months. Cold temperatures and wind could leave your teeth feeling sore, even when you take measures to avoid foods that have these abrasive qualities.” If your teeth get particularly touchy, even just going out on a gusty day could be uncomfortable.
If you’re suffering from tooth sensitivity, Dr. Armstrong can help you identify the source of your symptoms. Common causes range from cavities (which would need to be remedied with fillings) to excessive tooth whitening, which can weaken your enamel (in which case, we can offer you a more optimal customized whitening solution). Each person’s tooth sensitivity situation is different, so Dr. Armstrong will thoroughly examine your teeth and determine the best treatment option for your particular smile.
Is Colder Weather Dampening Your Smile?
If you’ve been dealing with one of the above issues, or even a different winter oral health conundrum, we’d be delighted to see you this winter at our Houston dental practice. To find out more and schedule your next appointment, contact us today.