Most Texans have spent the last few months indoors trying to avoid the scorching summer heat. But as the weather cools down, many will begin heading outside for long brisk walks or other outdoor activities.

Cooler days, however, can also bring aching teeth.

Dentists at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry say sensitive teeth are a common complaint during winter months.

“Cold is the best test for seeing if teeth are healthy,” says Dr. Charles W. Wakefield, professor and director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency Program at TAMHSC-Baylor College of Dentistry.

“Normally if something cold touches the teeth, they ache for a moment, then go back to normal as soon as the cold is removed,” Dr. Wakefield explains. “If severe pain continues after the stimulus is removed, there might be irreversible pulp disease requiring a root canal.”

In the winter months, dentists say you should try breathing through the nose and out the mouth when outdoors in cold weather because breathing in cold air through the mouth can make teeth sensitive. The lips, cheek and tongue usually insulate the teeth from the cold if your mouth is closed.

If tooth sensitivity hits you, Dr. Wakefield recommends first trying toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. If that doesn’t work, make an appointment with your dentist to determine the cause of the sensitivity and best course of treatment. Untreated sensitivity can result in permanent pulp damage.

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