When winter comes, we get our houses and cars ready for it. We change our wardrobes. We take precautions to avoid colds and the flu. But we forget about our mouths and teeth. They, too,feel the effect of the change of seasons. When you feel cold, you put on a jacket to end the problem. In the case of the teeth and gums, the discomfort is noticeable by the time the problem may have grown to where dental treatment is necessary. It's time to think about the special care that your mouth needs in winter.
• Many people find their teeth are more sensitive when it is cold. If you are one of them, switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and be gentle when brushing around the gums. You could also consider changing to a toothpaste that reduces tooth sensitivity.
• Thinking that summer is the season to drink lots of liquids is a common mistake. Winter is a time when it's easy to get dehydrated -homes, schools, offices, and other places where we spend a lot of time are heated,and that makes the indoor air dry. This, in turn, can dry out your mouth over time. Keeping your mouth moist will reduce the number of bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum diseases from developing. Also, the fluoride in drinking water is a great help in protecting the teeth from cavities.
• Limit your hot drink intake. Cold weather is when hot chocolate and tea/coffee are consumed a lot. The sugar in these drinks is a leading cause of tooth decay. Try drinking them without sugar, or else use a sugar substitute that will not harm the teeth. Sugar-free warm beverages are good for the teeth as they keep them warm, reducing the discomfort that cold teeth caused, especially if outdoors for long periods.
• Increase the amount of high calcium food in your diet. Cheese, crunchy vegetables, and fruits are great for keeping teeth and gums healthy.
• Winter is when cold sores are most common. You can reduce the incidence of this happening by keeping your hands away from the area around your mouth as far as possible. This will keep the bacteria and germs that cause these sores away. Since it's impossible to stop touching your face totally, keep washing your hands, so they are clean as possible. If cold sores do develop, apply a topical ointment on them immediately.
• If you are out in the severe cold for any length of time, wear a mouthguard. This will prevent you from clenching your teeth because of the cold.
• If you are moving around outside so much that you are out of breath and breathe through your mouth and the cold air causes the teeth to become painful, slow down and breathe only through your nose.
• If you haven't had your dental check-up recently, go in for one when winter starts. Your dentist will spot any possible problem areas and take action to prevent them from developing.
If you do experience any dental pain or discomfort, go and see a dentist without delay. It may be nothing, but it could be the sign of a problem that could cause pain, make you ill, and ruin your winter fun if not attended to.