Why are my teeth sensitive in winter?

Well, Dallas, it looks like we experienced an entire winter in one week. Welcome to Texas, right? But all jokes aside, so many have been so seriously impacted by this winter storm. Our hearts go out to everyone who is still recovering, and we wish the best for our patients and community here in North Texas.

Of course there are many pressing concerns that are taking priority in our lives right now – electricity, running water, restocking pantries, and so on. But we want to take a minute and just address something that may have occurred during this past week of extreme temperatures that might have escaped your notice in the midst of all the chaos but is important to be aware of: teeth sensitivity.

Tooth sensitivity is something that can be triggered by a variety of environmental factors or health conditions. One common environmental factor is breathing in cold air…which we have had in abundance over the past week here in Dallas. If your teeth have felt particularly sensitive over the past few weeks or throughout the winter months, it is important to share that information with your dental and oral healthcare provider in order to properly diagnose the cause of your tooth sensitivity.


GUM RECESSION – Gum recession can leave your root surface and dentin exposed (more about dentin below), which can cause sensitivity or pain in your mouth. The pain may not be persistent though. Instead the sensitivity or discomfort may be triggered by particular activities or conditions such as cold weather or drinking hot beverages.

TOOTH DECAY AND WORN ENAMEL – Tooth decay, worn or leaky fillings, worn enamel or broken teeth can expose your tooth’s dentin. What is dentin? The crown of your teeth (the visible part) has three layers: enamel, cementum, and dentin. Dentin is less dense than the protective coverings of cementum and enamel. The dentin contains microscopic canals called dentin tubules. When enamel or cementum wears away or becomes damaged, the dentin becomes exposed. Additionally, when your gums recede and expose the dentin, the tubules allow fluid to flow in them and are affected by heat and cold, which causes the nerves in the tooth to have sensitivity and pain.

Woman with tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity can be triggered by extreme temperatures and often indicates more serious conditions.


GET EXPERT HELP – Dr. Orth and his team of oral health professionals should evaluate your symptoms and properly diagnose the root cause of your tooth sensitivity. Because tooth sensitivity may be indicative of more serious oral health concerns, including periodontal disease and tooth decay, you should be evaluated as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage and persistent pain.

PRACTICE PROPER PREVENTION – Avoid using hard-bristled toothbrushes or brushing too aggressively. Choose soft-bristle toothbrushes and toothpaste for sensitive teeth. If you have questions about the best toothbrush, proper brushing techniques or toothpaste for sensitive teeth, be sure to ask your hygienist or Dr. Orth at your next appointment. Additionally, try avoiding acidic foods and drinks, which can also wear down the enamel on your teeth. If you choose to eat and drink acidic substances, use a straw in order to limit contact with your teeth and drink water right after in order to balance the acid levels in your mouth.

Remember: even if you do not have sensitive teeth, practicing proper prevention and oral health care will help prevent tooth sensitivity over time. Dallas periodontist, Charles Orth, DDS, specializes in providing excellent care for those whose underlying causes of sensitivity need professional or surgical intervention, but we prefer to educate and empower our patients on how to preserve their natural teeth in order to achieve a lifetime of oral health.

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