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Record low temperatures were recorded this week around the Great Lakes. Lots of sane people may love this winter weather, but I’m not one of them.  Give me the hot sun any day.  But everything in life gives us an opportunity to learn, and cold weather is no exception. Here are two cold weather essentials you should know:

1. Nose Breathing is best in cold weather – and the rest of the time too.  Studies show that breathing through your nose (as opposed to breathing through your mouth) not only warms the cold winter air, and cleans and humidifies the air – all good for lung health, but nose-breathing may also improve your memory. Memories have 3 main stages of development: encoding, consolidation & retrieval, and according to a recently published Journal of Neuroscience study, nose breathing – but not mouth breathing – enhances all three of these memory stages.  For the athlete in all of us, it’s interesting to note that the nasal-pulmonary reflex closes the lungs when the nose closes and opens the lungs when the nose is more open. The Cleveland Clinic says this may be why elite athletes like using nasal strips during exercise.  Nose breathing also warms the air before reaching our delicate lungs, humidifies the air for our throat and lungs, and helps clean the air of bacteria, viruses, allergens, pollutants, dust and more before that air reaches your lungs.

2. Pay Attention to the Warning of Cold Sensitivity when it comes to your teeth.  This is no small thing.  According to the ADA, causes of sensitive teeth include tooth decay, cracked teeth, worn tooth enamel, worn fillings, and tooth roots that are exposed because of periodontal (gum) disease, gum recession or even from too-aggressive tooth brushing.  The Mayo Clinic says that periodontitis, a form of gum disease, can not only cause tooth loss but some research suggests that the bacteria responsible for periodontitis can enter the bloodstream through gum tissue, possibly affecting your heart, lungs, and other parts of the body. Periodontitis may be linked with respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease or stroke.  

If your teeth are sensitive to cold air, it can be vitally important to heed this warning and take action now with your dentist because periodontal disease can be quite serious, and because other causes of cold sensitivity may be way easier to treat when caught early.  

So let the cold weather be an opportunity to learn about your health, and a motivation to take positive action!  As always, I’d be honored to help you in any way I can.  

Your grateful partner in health,

Dr. Mike