You've got plenty of health and wellness-related reasons to dislike winter. Aside from the obvious risks associated with the colder months--such as frostbite, hypothermia, and falls--you also have to worry about your increased odds of catching a cold or flu and the higher likelihood that you'll suffer a heart attack. As if all of these hazards weren't enough, there's one more way in which winter can affect your health -- it's really bad for your teeth. Read on to learn about four dangers your smile faces in winter, and how to protect yourself from them.
As the temperatures lower, people tend to gravitate to the warm winter beverages of their choice. If you're drinking coffee, tea, cocoa, or mulled red wine to warm yourself up on those cold winter days, you're doing damage to your teeth.
These beverages get their colors from pigmented molecules called chromogens. As the acid in the drinks soften and erode your enamel, they provide the perfect roughed-up environment for the chromogens to latch on and discolor your teeth.
Avoid winter beverage tooth stains by using a straw to sip warm drinks, thus allowing the liquid to bypass your teeth and go straight down your throat. It's also a great idea to occasionally substitute these high-staining drinks with warm water, lightly flavored with lemon and/or mint.
Shivering is your body's natural response to cold weather. When you go outside on a brisk winter day, your skin senses the temperature and prompts your muscles to repeatedly contract and relax in order to keep your body at a normal temperature.
Unfortunately, as your face muscles shake and shiver, your teeth can bang together, causing them to crack or break. If your teeth are already weakened, they may crack when exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
That's right -- the mere act of opening your mouth to speak when it's cold outside could damage your teeth. The enamel on your teeth is porous, and reacts much like porcelain to changes in the temperature.
When cold air comes in contact with your teeth, it causes their enamel to contract. When you close your mouth, the enamel expands as it warms back up again. As your teeth endure this hot/cold cycling, the repeated expanding and contracting causes stress on the enamel that can lead to small cracks in it, known as craze lines.
Craze lines provide nooks and crannies in your teeth for staining-agents in foods to latch on to, and can also worsen and lead to broken teeth.
To protect your teeth from craze lines, make sure your winter attire includes something that will provide a buffer between the harsh temperatures and your warm breath and mouth. A scarf wrapped high enough to cover the bottom portion of your face or an upturned jacket collar will suffice.
Furthermore, if you frequently breathe through your mouth, make a conscious effort to breathe through your nose instead this winter.
Roughly half a million people in the United States experience winter-induced depression. Experts believe that sunlight is essential in the body's ability to produce mood-regulating hormones, and so as the days get shorter, so does the ability of seasonal depression sufferers to control their thoughts and emotions.
What does this have to do with your teeth? Depression can increase your risk factors for developing dental problems. People who are depressed often take up smoking as a means to cope with their condition, and they also tend to generally neglect their oral hygiene. Worse yet, another symptom of depression, weakened immune system, interferes with the ability of the body to fight off gum disease and dangerous teeth and gum infections.
If you suspect that you may have seasonal depression disorder, contact your primary care physician and ask about the benefits of light therapy as a treatment option.
Winter can wreak havoc on your teeth. Schedule an appointment with your dentist today to ensure your smile is up to the challenge of another season of frigid winds and cold temperatures. To find dentists in your area have a peek at this web-site.