It’s that time of the year when you trade ice cream for hot chocolate. While indulging in warm treats, remember to protect your teeth from the cold weather.
Are your teeth sensitive early in the morning? Do you feel a shiver within while you rinse your mouth with cold water or when you drink a cup of coffee? Teeth are familiar with our normal body temperatures, so when they come in contact with something extremely hot or cold, a sensitivity is felt in the form of pain or mild irritation.
Sensitivity in teeth is caused due to worn out tooth enamel from brushing too hard, tooth erosion from acidic foods and drinks or tooth decay that exposes the dentin of your tooth. Here are a five things you can do to protect your teeth this winter:
Drink warm water
During winter, we tend not to drink enough water, as the weather doesn’t demand it. However, hydration is just as important now as it is in summer. Drinking two to three litres of water a day is a must. Water ensures that your teeth and gums are moist. Saliva in your mouth tends to dry up in the winter, which increases the build-up of bacteria.
Cold temperatures can make you shiver. You tend to clench your jaw, or even grind your teeth during this time. This can scrape the surface of your teeth, causing abnormal wear and tear that will prematurely age and loosen your teeth, opening them up to problems like hypersensitivity. Breathe through your nose when the weather is chilly to avoid teeth clenching and grinding. This will keep your mouth relatively warm.
If brushing your teeth after every meal is difficult, try brushing it at least twice a day. Once before you go to sleep and once after breakfast. Yes, after breakfast as you have already cleaned your mouth of sticky food at night. And don’t forget to floss.
Eat dessert first
Avoiding sugary foods and beverages is easier said than done. So from now on, get into the habit of having sweets at the beginning of the meal. This will make sure they don’t stay stuck to your teeth long after you’ve eaten, thus preventing cavities.
Visit a dentist
Sensitivity is the first sign that your teeth are weak. Hence, it is of utmost importance that you visit a dentist as soon as you feel the sharp pain or discomfort, so that preventive measures like dental sealant or fluoride treatment can be taken. Ignoring it could lead to more painful and expensive treatments.
Dental treatments are not expensive, however, neglecting them is. It is extremely important that we move from a disease based approach to a prevention based approach, where we can avoid the expense and suffering. We need to close the tap rather than keep wiping the floor.
(The author is founder & CEO, Vatsalya Centre for Oral Health, Bengaluru)