Healthy teeth might be something you don’t think about until they are no longer healthy. While some people are more susceptible to tooth decay than others, you can take some basic steps to keep your teeth healthy, such as brushing regularly and attending dental appointments every six months. But certain pitfalls also exist that can be damaging to your teeth, and they aren’t all that uncommon, either.
Biting nonfood items
Although your teeth may be sharp, they aren’t meant for tasks like tearing open plastic packaging or chewing on fingernails. Incidentally, biting nails can also even lead to gingivitis and tooth loss, according to oralanswers.com. While sharp, the tip of each tooth is the thinnest and weakest part, so it’s subject to chipping or even breakage if you’re chewing and tearing things that aren’t food.
Ice is another hazard to teeth. Although it’s made of water (no sugar!) it still has a very hard surface that can harm tooth enamel or even cause a broken or chipped tooth. Remember, ice is for chilling, not chewing!
Acidic and sticky foods
We all know candy is sticky and sugary and increases the risk of cavities, but other healthier foods might be just as damaging. While fruit smoothies are high in vitamins and minerals, their sugar and acid content is also high, which can be a problem for teeth. It’s best to sip these drinks through a straw, along with plenty of plain water to rinse your mouth afterward. And, as always, keep your intake moderate.
Caffeine and alcohol
It’s fairly common knowledge that soda is bad for your teeth due to the high amounts of sweeteners, carbonation and caffeine, which can dry out the mouth. Dentalhealth.org explains that a dry mouth is one that’s especially vulnerable to decay because your saliva acts as a rinsing agent that helps clear off harmful bacteria. But are there other drinks that dry out your mouth?
Coffee and tea aren’t all bad, but they can become a problem when consumed with too much sugar. Sugary add-ons and the drying effects of caffeine to your mouth mean additional risks of cavities. Again, limit added sugars, drink through straws and drink water to rinse your mouth afterward as much as possible.
Consistent alcohol use without extra care can also damage your smile. Much like caffeinated beverages, alcohol reduces the flow of saliva in your mouth. Heavy drinking also increases the risk of oral cancers. This happens when nutritional deficiencies associated with heavy drinking can lower the body’s ability to use antioxidants in preventing cancers.
Overdoing it on brushing and flossing
Just as a lack of dental hygiene can be harmful to your teeth, becoming overzealous in your routine can also be damaging. Those who use a tough-bristled brush and repetitive back-and-forward motions, described at oralwellness.com, may be wearing away enamel and even contributing to receding gums.
Instead, learn to use a soft-bristled brush with a small lateral brushing pattern at a 45-degree angle to the tooth and gumline. Make sure to be careful when flossing so you don’t damage your gums, too.
Grinding or clenching teeth
In a stressful and fast-paced society, it’s easy to store your stress in undesirable places. It’s for this reason that more and more people are experiencing problems caused by grinding or clenching their teeth at night. You may not even be aware you are doing it, but facial and jaw soreness in the morning is a telltale sign. Waking up with clenched teeth is also a clue.
Poor dental hygiene and ignoring problems
Usually, tooth pain is enough to get people in to see their dentist, but not always. Some people might have a swollen gum here or a sensitive tooth there that they might deem to be “not a problem.” But as with anything in dental health, it’s always better safe than sorry. Problems from decay, hygienic neglect or some other issue will worsen and cause more damage if left unchecked.
If you’ve gotten to the point where tooth loss has occurred, there are still solutions. Partial or full dental implants are one way you can once again have a strong, beautiful and comfortable smile. Be sure to contact our office if you are concerned about your current dental health.
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