Winter Tips for a Healthy Mouth

The dry, cold climate of winter months can wreak havoc on your mouth and lips. Take a look at some of the most common cold weather complaints, and some steps you can take to protect your oral health during the coldest months.

Chapped Lips

As most everyone knows, winter weather creates the perfect environment for dry, cracked lips. However, you don't have to suffer. Protect your lips by wearing a lip balm that contains at least SPF 15, be sure to apply early and often. When you're indoors, use a humidifier to keep the air around you moist. You can also avert chapped lips by staying hydrated. Drink plenty of water (remember, fluoridated is best!) to hydrate your skin. Although it might be instinctual to lick dry lips, it is actually one of the worst things you can do. As your saliva dries, it takes moisture from your skin and makes the problem even worse.

Canker and Cold Sores

Canker sores and cold sores, while often confused, are not the same thing. Canker sores are shallow ulcers that appear inside the mouth. They often make everyday tasks like eating and talking very uncomfortable. An increased number of canker sores is often the result of indulging in your favorite winter treats. Acidic foods and drinks like cider can trigger canker sores. Spicy foods like chili have the same effect. If you just can't resist and find yourself dealing with a canker sore, try swishing mixture of one teaspoon of salt and a half-cup of lukewarm water to keep the sore clean for faster healing.

On the other hand, cold sores (often referred to as fever blisters or herpes simplex type 1) are clusters of fluid-filled blisters that appear outside the mouth. Winter weather often exacerbates cold sore breakouts, so it's especially important to take preventative measures to protect the skin around your mouth. Continue using a lip balm containing an SPF of 15 or higher. To avoid the spread of viral bacteria, keep your hands clean and do not share utensils or glasses. 


If you experience a surge of pain when biting into cold foods, you might feel that same sensitivity is ever-present during the cold winter months. Since you can't avoid cold weather and winds altogether, try brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste. After a couple of weeks, you should notice a decrease in your irritation level when exposed to cold drinks, food and winter wind.

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