Maintaining healthy teeth and gums can have a huge influence on your overall health’s immune system as well as your dental hygiene, reducing the likelihood of painful infections and expensive dental appointments. However, there are certain everyday habits that can undermine oral health and leave you feeling less confident about your smile. Here are the most common mistakes that might be ruining your teeth.
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.
Sugar may Accelerate Cavities
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.
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.
Chewing Ice may Crack Teeth
Some people love chewing ice to cool down and rehydrate 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).
Hard Brushing Hurts Gums
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.
Fingernail Biting Hurts Gums
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, scratch gums and as well as introduce unwanted bacteria into the mouth.
Coffee Effects on Teeth
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.
Mouth Guards Protect Teeth
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.
Grinding your Teeth
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.
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.
Starchy Foods Cause Tooth Decay
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 Mouth as an 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.
Even with all the advancements that have been made in dentistry, tooth decay is still a leading disease in the world. Estimates suggest that up to 90 percent of school children and almost 100 percent of adults have cavities. Even though our teeth play a vital role in our overall health, most people still don’t know how to properly care for them. Take a look around, and you’ll see no shortage of people missing teeth, wearing dentures, or suffering from bad breath and bleeding gums.
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