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Why do your teeth chatter when you're cold?


What is the purpose of teeth chattering?

1757 day(s) ago

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bjones
Teeth chattering when we get cold is really just a form of localized shivering. Of course, this now brings up the question of why we shiver when we are cold. The answer lies in the fact that we are warm-blooded mammals. Our bodies must maintain an average temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit to operate properly. When we get too hot or too cold our nervous system has certain automatic and autonomic reflexes to help keep us warm. When we are too hot, we sweat. The evaporation of the sweat from our skin cools us down. When we are too cold, we shiver.

Shivering occurs when our muscles expand and contract rapidly to produce extra body heat. We know that when we exercise we get hot. When our muscles expand and contract they convert energy to heat. The “burning” of calories is not just an expression; the use of energy produces heat. Shivering is our muscles working by themselves to heat us up. This is an attempt by the body to prevent a condition called hypothermia. Hypothermia is a when our body temperature falls too low to survive. In hypothermia, our body slowly shuts down. Eventually our organs fail if hypothermia goes untreated and we die.

Shivering can be localized to certain parts of the body or it can happen to the whole body at once. Most often we recognize shivering in only one part of the body at a time. Our upper body may shiver while the lower body remains still. Sometimes our legs can shiver while our arms and chest are ok. Other times our neck and jaw shiver and this is when our teeth begin to chatter. Sometimes, outside forces can affect our bodies’ nervous systems and shivering can occur at inappropriate times. When we are sick, the body gets confused at what our high temperature must be. That’s why we shiver when we have a fever. Our body thinks 99 or 100 degrees is too cold when, in fact, it is very hot. Certain medications can also alter the “shivering point” of the body.

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