As the seasons change, we also change. We change our wardrobes for warmer garb. We change our diets for heartier, more filling foods. We even change our tires to navigate icy roads better. So, why not change the way we take care of our teeth as the weather gets chillier?
Making cold-weather improvements to your oral care can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy all year round. From brushing habits to diet changes, we explain 11 ways to take care of your smile as the weather turns colder.
1. Get a Soft-bristled Toothbrush
Toothbrushes come in different stiffnesses, like soft, medium, and hard. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), we should only brush our teeth with soft-bristled toothbrushes. Otherwise, stiffer bristles may wear down tooth enamel faster than expected.
And, when tooth enamel wears down, it exposes the sensitive dentin underneath. This can cause mild to extreme tooth sensitivity that worsens in cold temperatures. So, if winter tooth sensitivity is an issue every year, try switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush.
2. Do Not Overbrush
The ADA also recommends gently brushing at least two times a day for approximately two to three minutes each time. Brushing harder or longer than three minutes could result in worn tooth enamel and tooth sensitivity that gets worse in chilly air.
3. Replace Toothbrushes Regularly (and especially after illnesses!)
Many of us keep our toothbrushes for months, but how long is too long? According to the ADA, we should be replacing our toothbrushes at least every three to four months.
However, medical experts recommend swapping out toothbrushes after illnesses, too. So, even if you just changed your toothbrush before getting sick, it’s always best to replace it again. Otherwise, reinfection is a serious risk.
4. Use a Remineralizing Toothpaste
Clearly, tooth sensitivity is a big issue in the colder months. And, as with most things, prevention is key.
Therefore, we recommend preventing tooth sensitivity with a remineralizing toothpaste. These toothpastes contain essential ingredients (like fluoride and hydroxyapatite) that bind to the minerals found in tooth enamel, effectively patching areas of thin or weak enamel.
As a result, tooth enamel gets stronger while greatly reducing cold-weather tooth sensitivity.
5. Choose a Floss that Works for You
Traditional, string floss is not the most user-friendly dental hygiene product. And, with colder weather upon us, wrapping string around our cold fingers is the last thing many of us want to do.
Luckily, consumers have more options than ever to easily and comfortably floss their teeth this winter. From interdental brushes to reusable floss sticks, the ADA recommends these flosses for optimal comfort and care.
6. Breathe Through the Nose
If harsh winter air sends shockwaves through your teeth, then tooth sensitivity may be to blame. As simple as it sounds, breathing through the nose can mitigate a lot of discomfort while also protecting teeth from the elements.
7. Drink Plenty of Water
Of course, breathing through the nose isn’t always an option if you have a winter cold. To counteract the drying effects of mouth breathing, we recommend drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Water helps moisten the mouth while flushing bad bacteria away, which helps prevent cavities and gum disease.
8. Chew Sugar-free Gum or Suck on Sugarless Candy
In addition to drinking plenty of water, sugar-free gum, candies, and cough drops can help you keep your mouth moist in the dry winter climate. Not only that, but xylitol-containing gums and candies are clinically proven to prevent cavity-causing bacteria from multiplying in the mouth.
9. Limit Sugary and Acidic Foods and Drinks
We’re all looking forward to our favorite holiday foods and drinks this winter. But, when it comes to taking care of our teeth in cold weather, moderation is a must.
To keep your teeth healthy into the New Year, we recommend limiting your consumption of:
Cookies, candies, and other sugary treats
Sweet drinks, like hot chocolate, sugary coffees, and apple cider
Carbonated beverages, including champagne
10. Protect Chapped Lips
Cold, blustery days can wreak havoc on our skin, especially our lips. And chapped lips during the winter months can be particularly bothersome. Therefore, we recommend protecting your lips with scarves, masks, or lip balm with UV protection to prevent painfully cracked lips.
11. Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Perhaps the best way to take care of your teeth as the weather gets colder is to visit your family dentist. With a routine dental checkup and cleaning, you’ll be able to enjoy the colder weather and all of your favorite holiday vittles with complete confidence.
So, don’t wait–schedule your next dental appointment now!