Traveling To The 2002 Winter Games? Protect Your Mouth to Avoid Cold Sores and Sensitive Teeth

Feb. 5, 2002
Cold, blustery conditions can significantly increase susceptibility to these oral problems.

Cold, blustery and snowy weather conditions at the 2002 Winter Games are great for the events, but may sufficiently increase one's susceptibility to cold sores and sensitive teeth, reports the Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of general dentists.

Whether an athlete or spectator, at the Olympic Village or watching the Games at home in Maine, the Academy reminds consumers to take extra care of their lips and teeth during exposure to winter's harsh elements.
Tips to Avoid Cold Sores

Skiers train and compete in extreme weather conditions subjecting their lips to the cold, sun and wind. Due to these harsh elements, skiers have a high incidence of cold sores. Most are very careful to protect and care for their lips by applying lip balm with sunscreen before hitting the slopes. However, spectators with tickets to these events need to protect their lips, too, even on cloudy winter days.

"Lips are the hardest area to protect because people constantly lick, rub or wipe their lips, taking off the medicine," says Dr. Matranga. To prevent cold sores use a barrier such as a UV sun screen or opaque cream and reapply it frequently. "Ski masks are also a great way to protect lips and are recommended for children," Dr. Matranga notes.

Cold sores generally appear for seven to 14 days and can recur without proper protection. Recent studies show that applying Aloe Vera to a cold sore helps shorten the life of an existing sore.

The lips, cheeks and tongue adequately insulate teeth when the mouth is closed. Breathing abnormally cold air through the nose and mouth disturbs the thermal balance in the mouth, causing teeth to expand and contract. Over time, teeth develop microscopic cracks allowing cold and hot sensations to seep into the nerve.

"If your teeth are sensitive to the cold, and you can't get to a dentist right away, try petroleum jelly," suggests Charles H. Perle, DMD, FAGD, spokesperson for the Academy. "Rub it on the tooth and surrounding gums for instant short-term relief. It will provide a protective barrier against the elements."

Dr. Perle also suggests breathing through the nose and out the mouth, especially for spectators outdoors for several hours at a time.