Your teeth are strong. In fact, your tooth enamel is stronger than any bone in your body. However, if you neglect or abuse your teeth you can destroy what makes them so tough, creating an invitation for germs and decay. Here are somethings you might be doing that can be harmful to your pearly whites.
1. You Don’t Brush After Breakfast, Lunch And Dinner
Brushing your teeth three times a day is ideal. Although, timing is everything. If you brush right away, you could scrub away enamel that has been softened by acid introduced by what you ate. Make sure to wait 30 minutes to an hour after you eat to brush your teeth, giving them time to remineralize. Remember: Use a soft toothbrush, and brush in gentle, circular strokes.
2. You Don’t Floss
If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, that’s a sure fire sign of gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis can lead to tooth loss, so it’s vital to take good care of your gums. Flossing encourages gum health by clearing food from between your teeth and under your gum line.
3. You Skip Your Twice-Yearly Check-ups
When you blow off regular dental check-ups and cleanings, you allow plaque to form tartar on your teeth. Tartar attracts more plaque, carrying it deeper into your gums, which can weaken teeth. The sooner you have these issues addressed the easier and less expensive it will be to keep up with your oral health.
4. You Use Your Teeth As A Tool
Your teeth and jaws are strong so it can be tempting to use them for all kinds of tough tasks. Popping off bottle caps, ripping open plastic packaging, or even just chewing ice or hard candy can crack and chip your teeth. A lot of times it’s your front teeth that are damaged in these cases which is never a good look. Remember, your teeth are jewels, not tools.
5. Your Grind Your Teeth
You might be one of the millions of people who clench their jaws or grind their teeth. Some people do it when lifting something heavy, when they’re stressed or while they sleep. Tooth-to-tooth grinding will eventually wear down teeth and pave the way for cavities. Decay can result from the wearing away of your enamel, even those layers of enamel below the dentin. If you can’t break the habit, consider getting fitted for a mouthguard.
6. You Drink All The Wrong Liquids
Many of people’s favorite beverages can wreck your teeth. Soda, sports drinks and fruit juice contain sugars that lead to cavities, and diet drinks are laden with acids that eat away at your enamel. Red wine, coffee and tea drinks can stain your teeth, creating a sandpaper-like surface that attracts bacteria, which can lead to tooth decay. Bottled water isn’t doing your teeth any favors either. Most bottled water lacks fluoride, a chemical compound often added to public water supplies, which prevents cavities and tooth decay. If your tap water isn’t fluoridated, your dentists might provide you with fluoride supplements.
7. You Whiten Religiously
Using a teeth whitening system as directed isn’t harmful. But, if you go through box after box of Whitestrips, leave them on longer than directed, or whiten more than once a day you could end up with inflamed gums and unbearably sensitive teeth. Make sure to follow the instructions of your whitening system, and talk to your dentist before you start– especially if you already have sensitive teeth, worn enamel or gum disease.
8. You Smoke
You already know that smoking cigarettes is bad for your teeth and gums. It creates stains on your teeth that invite bacteria to set up camp, and the smoke weakens your gums’ ability to fight it off. This leads to the development of gum and bone (periodontal) disease, and the main reason why you would need dentures later in life.
If these habits relate to you, there is help. Don’t wait any longer to see a dentist.
Sara Thompson writes about oral health in collaboration with the family of dentists at Sheron Dental in Vancouver, WA.