There are certain everyday habits that can sabotage oral health and leave you feeling less confident about your smile. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums can have a huge influence on your overall well-being as well as your bank balance, reducing the likelihood of painful infections and expensive dental appointments. The most common mistakes that may be damaging to your teeth.
Chewing Ice May Crack Teeth
Some people love chewing ice to cool down and re-hydrate in the summer months, but you need to ditch this habit if you want to protect your teeth. Chewing ice can cause tissue irritation that leads to toothache, chip your teeth, and inflame your jaw (leading to temporomandibular joint dysfunction).
Brush Teeth Hard
It might feel like you’re just making sure your teeth are extra clean, but when you scrape them within an inch of their life you are weakening their protective enamel. To brush your teeth thoroughly but gently, use a soft brush and apply moderate pressure as you move the brush in small circles.
Fingernails Contain Bacteria
A common nervous habit, biting your nails transfers bacteria from the hands into the mouth. If you have a small cut in your mouth, it’s possible for an infection to develop as a result. The same can be said for chewing the ends of pencils or pens, which can crack teeth as well as introducing unwanted bacteria into the mouth.
Coffee can be invaluable when you’re feeling groggy and need to sharpen your mind before work, but your thirst for caffeine can dramatically change the appearance of your teeth. In particular, coffee is known to turn teeth yellow, so you’ll need to book a pricey whitening treatment if you want to restore your bright smile. Meanwhile, coffee is also acidic, so drinking too much can cause enamel damage.
Smoking Stains Teeth
While lung cancer is probably the first danger you associate with smoking, cigarettes also put your teeth at risk. In addition to staining them an unattractive shade of brown, smoking can lead to serious cases of gum disease that may even result in tooth loss. Meanwhile, cigarettes are also linked to an increased likelihood of developing mouth cancers.
Soda Erodes Tooth Enamel
Soda may not only stain your teeth, it contains acidic substances that damage tooth enamel. You’re probably aware that constantly sipping sugary sodas is a recipe for developing cavities as well as a larger belly. However, while diet sodas do reduce your calorie intake, it’s worth noting that artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose are actually highly acidic, irreversibly eroding the teeth in a way that makes them transparent and sensitive.
Use a Mouth Guard for Protection
If you enjoy contact sports like football or hockey, you need to wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth. Without one in place, you might end up with a cracked tooth at best and a missing tooth at worst! Your dentist can probably create a custom-fitted mouth guard for you, but you can also buy basic ones at sports stores.
Liquids Before Bed
Some people like to drink fruit juice or milk before going to sleep, or find that giving these drinks to children makes for a more restful night. However, milk or juice will coat the teeth with sugar, feeding bacteria in the mouth and increasing the risk of decay.
Pierced Mouth Inhibits Gums
You may think that lip and tongue piercings are fashionable accessories, but they pose a real hazard to your mouth. Firstly, your gums can easily become cut or grazed by the metal, and these wounds may become infected. Secondly, dentists commonly see people who have accidentally bit down on their piercings and cracked or chipped their teeth.
While most people are conscious of the link between candy and tooth decay, fewer realize that starchy foods (like potato chips, bread and pasta) can be equally hazardous to oral health. When these foods break down, the resulting acid can erode your teeth in the same way that coffee and sodas do. Wherever possible, brush and floss soon after eating these foods.
Using Your Teeth as a Bottle Opener
If you’re in a hurry to open a parcel an exciting gift, you might give up the search for the scissors and instead use your sharpest teeth to rip open the packaging. However, doing so is just asking for a chipped tooth. In addition, you don’t know what the packaging may have touched, so you could be introducing bacteria into your mouth as well.
Finally, the unconscious habit of grinding your teeth during the night can wear them down, creating pain and sensitivity. In severe cases, you might even crack your teeth while you’re sleeping! Get your dentist to make a protective mouth guard that reduces the pressure you’re able to apply when grinding your teeth.
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