Tips for Oral Health in winters

Dr Mandeep Kaur

You probably know that dropping temperatures, biting wind and a drier climate can wreak havoc on your skin. But did you know that exposure to colder weather can put you at increased risk for developing common dental problems, too? The cold temperature can have many negative effects on our oral health. Practicing good oral hygiene can help keep your mouth clean and healthy throughout the season.
Cold Sores
These small blisters around your lips can be triggered by stress, fatigue, weakened immune system and cold weather. Keep your lips moisturized to help minimize cold sore breakouts, wash your hands often and try to avoid touching your mouth. If you do feel a cold sore coming on, immediately apply a topical treatment to the area to stop the infection in its tracks.
Chapped Lips
It’s hard to avoid exposing your mouth to wind, cold and sun while enjoying your favourite outdoor activities, 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 lips from damaging UV rays by applying a lip balm containing SPF several times a day. In addition, it’s important to mention that your body moisturizes from the inside out, so remember to keep up with your daily water intake to help to keep your lips moisturized.
Dry Mouth
Less moisture in the air can lead to less saliva production and a feeling of dry mouth. Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth hydrated and consider placing a humidifier in your home to increase moisture in the air.
Tooth Sensitivity
Many find that they experience increased tooth sensitivity to cold temperatures. This not only comes from foods, but the chilly air outside too. During the winter months it is very common to up your intake of Vitamin C via citrus fruits which have a high acidic volume leading to tooth wear and sensitivity so preserve your tooth enamel and avoid irritating and acidic food and drinks. If you find that you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, there are tricks you can do to help avoid discomfort. These include using toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth, or even rinsing out your mouth with salt water.
Gum Infection
Winter colds and weaker immune systems can leave your gums more vulnerable to inflammation and infection. To help keep germs away, try to avoid touching your mouth, and continue to keep up good oral hygiene habits.
Cavity care
Best part of the winter season is all the delicious foods. It’s fine to give into temptation and indulge in sweet treats, but just be sure to properly brush and floss afterwards to avoid cavities. In addition, always remember to drink plenty of water to help rinse away food particles and bacteria from your mouth. Incorporating dental friendly foods into your winter diet to help with cavity prevention will also benefit you. Foods such as crunchy fruits and vegetables, cheese and other foods high in calcium, are all perfect for keeping your teeth and gums healthy this winter.
Stay safe during winter activities
Many families favourite winter activities are skiing, snowboarding and sledding. But sometimes, accidents happen, and you or a family member may experience an oral health injury, like breaking or losing a tooth. If you’re proactive, you’ll know what to do if such an accident happens. Be sure to familiarize yourself for what to do in a dental emergency. If you follow the right steps, you may save a tooth, as well as avoid future issues and costs stemming from a winter injury.
The author is Assistant Professor Deptt of Oral Pathology & Microbiology Indira Gandhi Govt. Dental College, Jammu.