You brush your teeth, you floss them too, and you see your dentist on a regular basis. If you’re taking all of these actions, then you are doing a great job keeping your smile healthy! You get a gold star from us.
However, even when you’re following those steps, it doesn’t always counteract habits that harm your teeth. Here are a few bad habits you should break (or avoid) because they can leave you with bad teeth.
Bad Habit #1: Using Your Teeth as an Opener
Teeth were designed to chew and tear food, not random objects. Chewing hard, non-food objects like fingernails, pens, pencils, and even ice can cause teeth to shift and fracture.
Avoid using your teeth to tear or open items like tape or plastic items. Heaven forbid you use your teeth to open bottles or such. The bottom line is: do not use your teeth to open things!
Even chewing on ice can damage enamel and make you susceptible to dental emergencies such as chipped, cracked, or broken teeth, as well as loosened crowns. Instead, try to drink your beverages chilled without ice to resist the temptation to crunch on ice, and do your teeth a solid!
Bad Habit #2: Snack Attack
If you’re a snacker, and you find yourself sucking/chewing on candies all day long or even munching on carbs you may be making your teeth more susceptible to tooth decay.
Foods that are high in sugar create the perfect breeding ground for the bacteria in your mouth — which causes tooth decay and periodontal disease. Further, sticky foods have a tendency to linger in your mouth longer since your natural removal process (aka saliva) has a hard time dissolving and removing these substances.
You’ll definitely want to avoid sour candies, as their acids are tough on your teeth. If you get a sweet tooth have a square of dark chocolate instead which washes away much more easily.
Even dried fruits like apricots, prunes, figs, and raisins, are so sticky that they cling to your teeth and their crevices. If you can, limit the dried version and eat more fresh fruits!
Believe it or not, constant snacking on bread, pretzels and chips are also bad for your teeth. They have starches that break down into sugar when you chew which then sticks to the crevices between your teeth and, you guessed it, leads to cavities! Instead, eat whole wheat or whole grain bread which isn’t as easily broken down.
If the snack attack happens, simply rinse your mouth with water and then brush your teeth afterwards.
Bad Habit #3: Giving Your Teeth Acid Baths
An acid bath doesn’t sound very pleasant, does it? But those who sip soda throughout the day are constantly bathing their teeth in acid and sugar.
Since acids eat away at tooth enamel this makes you a target for tooth decay. Carbonated drinks actually enable bacterial plaque to create extra acid that attacks tooth enamel. Did you know that soda has a ph level on average of 2.52? That makes it more erosive than orange juice, and we already know that acid in citrus juices deteriorates tooth enamel. But the good news is, you can dilute citrus juices with water to lessen their acidic impact.
Coffee and tea also stain teeth and dry out the mouth (which increases the risk for tooth decay). Which brings us to alcohol; it really dries out your mouth, and you need healthy saliva flow to keep your pearly whites healthy. Saliva also keeps food from sticking to your teeth as it is constantly washing away food particles, acting a lot like an oral rinse. So, limit harmful drinks, stay hydrated throughout your day by drinking plenty of water, and use fluoride to keep your teeth strong.
Tip: drinking milk with their proteins and minerals inhibits attachment and growth of cavity-forming bacteria, making it a super healthy choice for your teeth.
Bad Habit #4: Ignoring The Daily Grind
Teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism) often happens while you are sleeping, but if you find yourself grinding your teeth in the day, be mindful and relax your jaw lest you end up with worn down enamel or fractured and loosened teeth.
As bruxism wears down your enamel, it exposes the more vulnerable dentin layer below, as well as damaging the teeth where they meet the gums, leaving you with cracks or a breaking down of the tooth at the gum levels.
Bruxing while you sleep happens when you unconsciously clench or grind your teeth. You may brux because of stress, anxiety, dehydration or sleep apnea — a medical condition where the throat muscles relax too much, blocking your airways and pausing your normal breathing.
If you brux in your sleep, you may find yourself experiencing:
- Sore muscles in your face
- Morning headaches
- Ear Aches
- Fractured or sensitive teeth
- Damage to your Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
To combat stress and anxiety, a sleeping aid and/or prescribed medication can help soothe your nerves, calm and relax you. Avoid alcohol and caffeine a few hours before going to bed, and don’t eat chewy foods like gum so you can give your jaw a break. You may also benefit from wearing a custom-made occlusal guard when you sleep to keep your teeth safe. Or you may need an orthotic to help your jaw muscles relax.
Bad Habit #5: Skipping
That’s right, skipping is a bad habit. But we aren’t talking about physically coordinated individuals who can effortlessly skip down the street, we’re talking about skipping important things when it comes to your oral health.
This seems to show up in a variety of ways but they all have a negative impact on your oral health.
So here’s the things that people often try to skip, but totally shouldn’t.
You may be tempted to skip your annual radiographs, whether it be due to your insurance coverage or your fear of radiation. Either way, x-rays are necessary in being able to see between your teeth, check the roots of your teeth, and bone levels. Being able to see what’s going on enables the dentist to be able to help create a treatment plan that is preventative. Meaning it saves you time, money, and from experiencing dental pain.
So, don’t skip your annual x-rays and 3 year full mouth x-rays (or panoramic film).
You’d be surprised by how many people try to put off their initial periodontal therapy, or try to pro-long replacing old crowns and restorations. We understand that sometimes people are trying to save money, however, the irony is that procrastination always ends up costing more in the long run.
Dental treatment never costs less or hurts less than it does today. It’s never a matter of ‘if‘ things get worse, but rather, ‘when‘ things get worse. The progression of tooth decay and periodontal disease definitely don’t have a happy ending if you let them run their own course.
One would think that being preventative with oral health would be a no-brainer, unfortunately that does not always seem to be the case.
Getting in-office fluoride treatments, enhanced oral cancer screenings, and seeing the hygienist at the recommended time (not what you feel like doing) are all incredibly important to preventing tooth decay and gum disease — as well as, catching things early-on before they become much bigger problems.
Not to mention, establishing a proper home care routine makes the world of a difference (that’s right, don’t skip brushing and flossing just because you’re too tired).
So, there you have it. Five Bad habits that you should avoid. But now that you know better, taking good care of your smile will be easy. Our Exceptional Dentistry team in Palmdale, CA is always here for your oral health and well being! Give us a call at (661) 349-7725 with your dental concerns for yourself or your family or simply schedule a visit online!