Teeth chattering is just a symptom of shivering. Endotherms (that’s you, me, other mammals, birds, and some insects) produce heat within the body. They use thermoregulation to keep their bodies at a constant temperature. You can thermoregulate physiologically and behaviourally. Shivering is a physiological response to cold, it’s coming from inside. Putting on a jacket because you’re cold is a behavioural response.
Let’s say you’re cold and you won’t put on a jacket, or do a lap around the block to keep warm. Your brain tells your body what it needs to do. The brain — the hypothalamus, to be specific — monitors your temperature. Get too cold and and the hypothalamus sends nerve impulses to the skin and you get goose bumps. The goose bumps are caused by teeny muscles attached to the base of your hair follicles. Since humans lack a tonne of body hair, the goose bumps do little to make us warmer. But for furry animals those little muscles create better insulation. The muscles raise the hairs and the hairs trap air next to the skin. Because air is an insulator, this air next to the skin acts like a blanket to keep an animal warm.
Let’s go back to you. You’re cold and you’re just not furry enough to use air as a blanket. Your muscles get a signal to start contracting — that’s the shivering and teeth chattering. The by-product of the muscle contractions is heat.
Are you wondering about furry animals and the cold? A furry animal can get cold — just watch a Greyhound or Whippet being walked in Toronto in winter! How much fur or fat a creature has helps determine at what temperature it gets cold. That’s why seals, in general, are not bothered by the cold ocean, they’ve got thick layers of insulation in the form of blubber and fur.
Now just for fun, picture a polar bear and a mouse side-by-side in your room. The mouse is quite comfortable. But turn off the heat and it will shiver, or start running around like crazy to produce heat. At room temperature, the polar bear is panting and staying still. It’s hot! If you turn up the air conditioning and haul in some ice blocks, the bear will thank you.
By: Br. Elizabeth Eggert
That Have Nothing to Do with Being Cold
You’re watching your kid play football or soccer on a beautiful fall afternoon when the sun goes down, bringing the temperature down with it. You’ve forgotten your coat, so you start to shiver. Soon, your teeth are chattering. Next game, you’ll come prepared!
We’ve all experienced teeth chattering from chilly temperatures. It’s a normal bodyresponse to feeling cold. But sometimes, your teeth chatter when you’re perfectly comfortable. When they do, it’s time to give the chattering a second thought. Here are four reasons why your teeth could be chattering that have nothing to do with the chill in the fall air.
1. You grind your teeth.
3. You’re experiencing a very high level of stress or anxiety.
4. You have a neurological condition.
If your teeth are chattering and you’re not cold, it’s important to figure out the reason why. Schedule an appointment at Eggert Family Dentistry to discover if you’ve been clenching and grinding your teeth. We can provide solutions that will ease the grinding and put a stop to the chattering.
You’re standing at a bus stop in the rain, sledding down a snow-covered hill, or simply walking outside on a brisk winter day, and your teeth begin to clack together. Nearly everyone knows the feeling of chattering teeth when they get cold. Shivering and teeth chattering is a normal bodily response to help raise your temperature when needed. However, if you find your teeth clinking together even when you aren’t chilly, this could be a sign of another health problem. Furthermore, excessive chattering for any reason could be damaging your enamel and potentially putting you at risk for a host of other oral health issues, from decay to gum disease. Fortunately, Dr. Craig Armstrong and our team are here to help answer all of your dental questions and see to it that you maintain a beautiful smile. In the following blog, we describe five common reasons for chattering teeth and explain what you can do about this condition.
1. Cold Weather
Before we go over other reasons for this symptom, it’s important you understand why your teeth do and should chatter in chilly weather. In his video for Mental Floss magazine, Craig Benzine explains that, “when your skin gets colder than expected, your body takes note,” triggering a response in the “hypothalamus in the brain, which is what controls body temperature.” The hypothalamus, he notes, “contains something known as the shivering center…that shaking you experience happens because the body’s muscles are contracting and relaxing rapidly…those muscles include your face muscles, and when your face muscles begin to shiver…teeth chattering can be a side effect of that.”
So, it’s clear that your body shivers when cold, but why? What’s the purpose of chattering? Science ABC explains: “when your body’s internal temperature begins to fall below the preferred range, the body needs to create extra warmth. The skeletal muscles – from your shins and thighs to your shoulders, hands, and cheeks – will begin to gently (or violently) shake and shiver, which expends energy and thereby releases heat.” So, this involuntary movement is your body’s way of trying to keep you as toasty as possible, even in the cold.
2. Emotional Stress, Anxiety, and Panic
With today’s hectic lifestyles, stress happens to nearly everyone at one time or another. In addition, more severe anxiety or panic may occur occasionally during particularly difficult circumstances. When your body reaches a high stress level, a number of physical effects can happen. This includes heart pounding, raised blood pressure, headache, nausea, and teeth chattering.
You’ve probably experienced a shaky feeling when you are nervous about a big presentation or anxious for a first date. This movement, like shivering, can cause your teeth to hit up against each other and chatter. If your teeth are consistently chattering when you aren’t cold, this symptom could be due to stress. Taking deep breaths, going for walks, and talking to a friend about your worries can help tremendously. If you’re experiencing anxiety on a regular basis, you may also consider reorganizing your life and schedule to avoid feeling this way and emphasizing activities that help you stay calm.
Call us on - 832-251-1234
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, “one in three people suffer from bruxism,” or teeth grinding. Although this condition is more associated with clenching, it can cause a chatter-like spasm as well. In addition to being uncomfortable, clenching and grinding can do serious damage to your teeth over time. Dr. Armstrong and our team can help treat your bruxism so you don’t have to deal with constantly chattering teeth. If you’re suffering from symptoms of teeth grinding, we strongly recommend coming in for an appointment as soon as possible because:
For these reasons and many more, it is imperative that you schedule a consultation if you notice your teeth chattering constantly or come across any other signs of bruxism. We can help you protect your smile.
4. Neurological Disorders
Teeth chattering when you aren’t cold or anxious is sometimes an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease. It is often accompanied by other tremors, such as in the hands. In addition, some people with a tic disorder such as Tourette’s Syndrome may experience clicking or chomping of the teeth together or involuntary jaw movements. Furthermore, according to New York Times Science columnist, C. Claiborne Ray, chattering can also result from a condition called oromandibular dystonia, “in which the neurological mechanism that makes muscles relax when they are not in use does not function properly. The contractions [involved in this condition] can interfere with chewing and swallowing.” There are a wide variety of neurological factors and conditions that can lead to chattering, so you should take this symptom seriously. If Dr. Armstrong does not determine a dental cause for your chattering, we will refer you to a specialist who can help you.
5. Side Effects of Medications
A number of medications can cause trembling or tremor, which may result in teeth chattering. These include medications for cancer, asthma, blood pressure, and many others. In addition, antidepressant medications have been demonstrated to cause clenching and grinding in many patients, which can, in turn, lead to chattering. Furthermore, withdrawal from drugs like alcohol or nicotine may cause trembling.
If you’re on a medication and notice your teeth chattering, we recommend speaking with your physician about this side effect. When Dr. Armstrong evaluates your teeth, we will also ask you about your prescriptions to help ascertain whether or not these could be a factor in your chattering. If side effects are the cause of your condition, do not stop taking your medication without your physician’s approval. If you’re trying to quit smoking or drinking and notice trembling or other side effects, don’t give up. Your physician can help you find ways to cope with the initial withdrawal.
Our Houston Dental Team Can Help
Regardless of the cause, teeth chattering when you aren’t cold is a symptom you should address with your westchase dentists or physician. Ongoing chattering can lead to tooth damage and dental problems, plus it can be a sign of more serious physical disorders. In some cases, your physician will want to rule out certain diseases or conditions, or may modify any medications you’re taking. If you are experiencing clenching, grinding, or chattering, Dr. Armstrong and our team can assist you! We will help you find the cause of your condition and remedy it appropriately. Contact our Houston, TX practice today to schedule an appointment.
Insurances We Accept
Dentists at Armstrong-Katzmark DDS believe that everyone has a right to affordable, high-quality dental care near Houston, TX. For that reason, our professional team is committed to caring for our patients with respect and compassion. So, count on us for comprehensive treatments that address both your minor and significant oral health needs. What’s more, we do so by keeping dental payments budget-friendly and straightforward.