How Cold Weather Affects Your Teeth?

Pain for no reason

Experiencing pain when your teeth are exposed to cold weather is something that many people go through. Even when they do not experience pain in warmer weather, they often discover that the cold season can be difficult to enjoy outdoors. 


Causes of Cold Weather Tooth Pain

  • Tooth Enamel

The enamel on your teeth is like many other materials – it will expand and contract in cold weather. The continual shrinking and enlarging will have an effect on your tooth enamel after a while. As it continues to do so, cracks will eventually develop in the enamel that may allow the cold air to touch the dentin – the layer underneath the enamel. 

The cracks may shrink enough in warmer weather to make your teeth not sensitive anymore, but they will expand in cold weather, causing you to develop sensitive teeth. It will not likely affect the soundness of your tooth enamel, but it can be enough to make your teeth sensitive when out in cold weather. 

  • Dental Fillings

If you have dental fillings in your teeth made of metal, such as mercury amalgam, you may find that these could bother you as well. The metal in them will shrink and expand, and it will do so at a different rate than your teeth. This can put pressure on your teeth from the inside, causing some tooth pain.

  • Dentin

Under your tooth enamel, there is a layer called dentin. It is softer than the enamel and it is porous. When the enamel on your teeth expands, it can enable the cold air to penetrate the dentin and get to the nerves in the tooth. This will cause pain. Although it may not mean that you have erosion of your tooth enamel, it often does.

  • Enamel Erosion

When the layer of enamel begins to grow thin in spots, it can cause tooth nerve pain. The sensitivity is caused because a cavity is developing. Tooth enamel is slowly eroded away by the acid in your mouth. One of the main sources of erosion of the enamel is a lack of care of your teeth – you are not brushing them twice a day and flossing.

  • Sensitive Teeth Causes

As your tooth enamel becomes thin in spots, your teeth will begin to become sensitive. Foods or liquids will begin to cause some tooth pain, especially when you eat or drink hot or cold foods or sweet or spicy foods.

  • Tooth Roots Exposed 

It is also possible that you may have the roots of some of your teeth exposed. Your tooth roots do not have tooth enamel to protect them, so when they are exposed they will be more sensitive. They will also develop cavities much faster after your gums have receded. Consuming acidic foods will cause faster erosion of the material on your tooth roots.

  • Cracked Teeth

Another possible cause of sensitive teeth is that they could be cracked. This kind of crack may be visible. It could be large enough to allow cold air to reach the nerves in the tooth. You may be able to prevent this kind of tooth sensitivity by breathing through your nose and closing your mouth.

You may also find a satisfactory toothache pain reliever in toothpaste or mouthwash that is for sensitive teeth. This will often help if the problem is not serious. 


Other Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Other possible causes of teeth that are sensitive only seasonally are varied. They may include:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Clenching your teeth
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Tooth whitening
  • Dental work.

Normally, with enough tooth care, brushing and flossing will remove the plaque from your teeth. This is a buildup of bacteria on your teeth that is constantly occurring. Some of the bacteria will produce acid, and that is what causes cavities and gum disease. Leaving the plaque on your teeth for long periods will cause erosion of your tooth enamel – which will not grow back. 

A second cause may be that you are consuming too much sugar. The bacteria mentioned above feeds on sugar. The more sugar you consume, the more acid you will have in your mouth. If you love to sip some sugary drink for long periods, you are getting a lot of acid in your mouth, and it is speeding up the erosion process.


Tooth Sensitivity Treatment

When you have a tooth that is sensitive to cold, you should have it looked at by a dentist. It could also be a problem with a crown, a bridge, or other dental work. The dentist can analyze the problem and remedy it. An x-ray may need to be taken. 

In addition to fixing a problem with a cavity, the dentist also has a couple of other tools that can help protect teeth. Fluoride treatments can be added to the teeth to help protect them from acid and will make them less sensitive. Also, a plastic sealant can be added that will help protect a tooth for years. 


When you have tooth nerve pain from cold weather, you need to see a dentist. A dentist can help resolve your sensitive teeth problem and give you tooth pain relief. ToothHQ Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS MBA, a Board Certified Periodontist, offers tooth sensitivity treatment. He also provides dental care for the whole family in his Carrollton, Cedar hill, Mocking bird/SMU and Grapevine, TX offices. Many dental insurance plans are accepted.