Winter is here and that means dropping temperatures, biting wind and drier air that is wreaking havoc. Did you know these winter woes can but you at risk of developing common dental problems? Being aware of the winter oral health risk, while also practicing good oral hygiene, can help you keep your mouth healthy throughout the winter season.
Canker sores typically will peak during winter months due to the harsh dry air that makes soft mouth tissues more prone to injury and infections. This is because saliva is needed to rid the mouth of bacteria and food particles that can cause infections, and the dry air leads to reduced saliva in the mouth. Also, the winter season compromises our immune system and leaves us more vulnerable to infections in the mouth like canker sores.
Canker sores can be aggravated even more by exposure to spicy and acidic foods, so avoiding them during the season is a good idea if you develop any sores. In addition, rinsing your mouth with a mixture of warm water and salt may help ease painful symptoms.
Colder temperatures can increase tooth sensitivity to cold and heat — not just from food and beverages, but even cold air can cause tooth pain especially made for sensitive teeth.
These small blisters around your mouth and lips are caused by a virus, but their appearance can be triggered by such seasonal ailments as fever and colds, as well as cold weather itself. To help minimize cold sore breakouts in winter weather, keep your lips and the area around your mouth moisturized and use lip balm with sunscreen.
Take steps to minimize the introduction of bacteria and viruses to your body — wash your hands often, try to avoid touching your mouth and don’t share items like eating utensils and towels with anyone who might have a cold sore. If you feel a cold sore coming on, treat it as soon as possible with over-the-counter medications or talk with your doctor or dentist about treatment options.
Winter colds and flu can weaken your immune system as it works to fight off those illnesses. That leaves the door open for bacteria in your gums to grow almost unchecked, leading to gum infection. Keeping up good dental care at home is important to help fight off the problem. But if your gums are already swollen, bleeding or painful, see your dentist.
Cold weather can cause your joints and muscles to tighten up — and that includes the ones in your jaw area. If you have temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, this can make the problem harder to manage. To improve jaw discomfort or TMJ in cold weather, keep warm and consider a scarf or other covering to help keep your jaw area, in particular, toasty.
It’s hard to avoid exposing your mouth to wind, cold and sun while enjoying your favorite outdoor activities in winter, but cooler weather can quickly dry the thin skin on your lips. Soothe dry, cracked lips by applying a bit of petroleum jelly, and protect them from further damage by frequently applying a lip balm containing sunscreen.
Less moisture in the air can lead to less saliva production, which can leave your mouth feeling dry. If you actually have the oral health issue known as dry mouth, winter’s dryness can make it worse. Drinking plenty of water can help keep your mouth hydrated, help your body produce saliva and help wash away food particles, reducing bacteria in your mouth that can lead to tooth decay. You can also try placing a humidifier in your home to increase moisture in the air.
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