Various Damaging Oral Habits
Keeping your teeth looking great will only happen if you develop some good habits to keep them that way. While most people know this or have at least heard it, there are some habits you may be guilty of that are damaging your teeth. In fact, some of those bad habits may actually help to destroy your beautiful white teeth.
Habits That Are Hurting Your Teeth
Some harmful habits that you may be doing without thinking about them are hurting your teeth. In some cases, the damage being done to your teeth may be irreversible – unless you have expensive cosmetic dentistry. Some habits you want to avoid include:
- Consuming Too Much Sugar
Sugar is the natural enemy of your teeth. Yes, sweet foods and drinks taste really great, but most likely they are harming your teeth. The bacterium that is responsible for cavities feeds on sugar and every time it does it produces acid. The acid is what erodes the enamel on your teeth. In fact, every bite or swig you take of a sugary drink enables the bacteria to produce acid for the next 20 minutes.
If you drink sugary drinks – specialty coffees, fruit juices, or sodas – all day long, you will definitely see many cavities as a result. Rinsing the sugar out afterward with water will help. Sodas also have their own acid in them, which will help to erode the enamel faster.
- Grinding and Clenching Teeth
Grinding your teeth or clenching them is going to damage them. This is often an unconscious habit and some people do it in their sleep. It can lead to shorter teeth and cracked or chipped teeth. Even worse, teeth grinding may result in problems with your jaw joint that can be very painful. This bad habit is often aggravated by increased stress. Learning to relax more can help reduce it. Getting into a regular exercise program can also help to reduce stress.
When adults or children grind or clench their teeth, it may be a symptom of sleep apnea. The dentist can provide you with special mouth guards to help protect your teeth – and they can help with sleep apnea, too.
- Eating Hard Foods
Chewing on hard candy and ice are hard foods that many people enjoy. Unfortunately, these hard items can also damage the enamel on your teeth. It can chip them, or crack them. When chewing on ice, it lowers the temperature of the tooth, making it easier to crack. If the crack is deep enough, the tooth may need to be replaced.
- Biting Your Nails
This habit is bad for your jaw because you must extend it to bite your nails. Keeping your jaw in an extended position for long periods can lead to jaw pain in the joints of your jaw. The habit can also lead to a wearing down of your front teeth, and it may crack or chip them, too. You can start breaking the habit by reducing your stress, or by using a nail polish that tastes bitter.
- Brushing Too Hard
In order to remove plaque from your teeth, it is not necessary to be heavy-handed. Plaque is rather easily removed. By putting a lot of pressure on your toothbrush, you are wearing away your gums. This can lead to cavities on the roots of your teeth as your gums recede. You also should use a toothbrush with soft bristles rather than hard ones.
You also want to wait after eating for about 30 minutes before brushing. The enamel on your teeth is softer after eating for about 20 minutes. Brushing your teeth right after eating will remove some of the enamel from your teeth – which does not grow back.
- Not Drinking Enough Water
Drinking plain water is a great way to help your teeth last longer. Water aids in the production of saliva, which naturally helps to wash away the bacteria, acid, and sugar from your teeth. Dry mouth can be caused by alcohol, coffee, medications, and more. When your mouth is dry, the bacteria that produce acid multiplies, and it also stays on your teeth longer. Staying hydrated with water through the day helps protect your teeth and your saliva helps to supply the minerals your teeth need to stay strong.
Smoking, or using tobacco of any kind, is one of the worst things you can do if you want to keep your teeth looking good. Besides staining your teeth quickly, it also leads to a reduced immune system in your gums. This enables the bacteria to multiply fast and cause gum disease. Periodontitis is responsible for most adult tooth loss today. You can work to quit smoking by reducing stress, exercising regularly, and chewing gum. Your dentist can also recommend quit smoking programs.
Even if you have been practicing some common bad habits for some time, breaking bad habits and adopting habits of good oral hygiene can help spare your teeth and gums. In addition to good habits, keeping regular dental appointments will help keep your teeth in top shape and last a long time.