Winter brings lower temperatures, drier air and harsh winds, which can wreak havoc on your oral health. Here are some common problems and how to avoid them.
Cold sores can cause small blisters to develop around your lips, and they can be triggered by colder weather and seasonal flu and colds. You can reduce the frequency of outbreaks by ensuring your lips remain well moisturised and using lip balm containing sunscreen. If you feel a cold sore developing, treat it as soon as possible using over-the-counter medication or talk to us about possible treatment options.
You can minimise the risk of catching cold sores by avoiding touching your mouth and washing your hands frequently, and don’t share towels or utensils with anyone who could have a cold sore.
Mouth Ulcers can be extremely painful. They affect the inside of the mouth, and an attack can last for a week or more. The drier air can aggravate mouth ulcers during winter. If you are prone to developing mouth ulcers, avoid eating foods that could trigger an attack, such as anything spicy or acidic. A painful mouth ulcer attack may be relieved with a warm saltwater mouth rinse. If it persists, visit the surgery to have it reviewed and to talk about how best to treat it. An ulcer may be the first sign of a bigger problem – so it is best reviewed by your dentist.
The cooler weather, harsh winds and sun can all dry out the thinner skin on your lips. Lock in moisture by applying balm to your lips, and be sure to use one containing sunscreen! These are available from our clinic. If anything appears unusual on the lips – alert your dentist at your next visit.
During winter, the drier weather can aggravate a condition called dry mouth or xerostomia, where you cannot produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist, clean, and comfortable. Taking certain medications can exacerbate this problem, and a lack of saliva can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. If your mouth feels drier than normal, make sure you drink plenty of water and consider using a humidifier in your bedroom to increase moisture. We are happy to discuss suitable ways to combat dry mouth and reduce the impact on your dental health and have products available which can help.
During winter, your immune system often has to work harder to fight off flu and colds, increasing the risk of developing other infections like gum disease. This disease is preventable with good oral care, but if you have noticed your gums look swollen, red or feel tender and have begun to bleed, come and see us immediately. Gum disease is reversible during its early stages.
Breathing in the cold air can increase tooth sensitivity. You can fight this problem by using toothpaste developed for sensitive teeth, but you need to use it for several weeks to feel the full effects. If sensitivity continues, come and see us for a checkup in case you have an untreated problem like a cavity.
The colder air can make your muscles tense, including those in your jaws. If you have jaw problems, it can make the condition harder to manage. Make sure you wrap a warm scarf around your jaw area to keep your jaw muscles warm, relaxed and toasty. There are treatments available for jaw pain, so please ask your dentist at your next visit.