We all have habits some good and some bad. But did you know that some of these habits can affect your teeth?
The following are some habits that can damage your teeth and oral health...
1. Tobacco. This is an obvious one for most people. Smoking turns your beautiful white teeth yellow over time, but it can be much more damaging than that. Smoking or even smokeless tobacco has been shown to cause oral cancer (along with lung and throat cancer), periodontal disease, tooth decay, and eventually tooth loss.
2. Diet pills. Taking these may seem like a quick way to slim your waist line, diet pills can also be an easy way to develop periodontal disease and tooth decay. Most people do not realize but many over the counter medications, like diet pills, actually cause your body to decrease salivary flow. When salivary flow decreases you increase your risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease. The best prescription for losing weight is a well balanced diet along with regular exercise. Not only will you lose weight but you will protect your smile.
3. Teeth Grinding. Teeth grinding (also called Bruxism) has a wide range of effects on a person's smile. Grinding your teeth can affect your temperomandibular joint (commonly referred to as the TMJ), cause premature breakdown of teeth, cause tooth sensitivity, and even change the appearance of your face. People who have normally healthy teeth will over time destroy the outer layer of their teeth(the enamel) which causes chipping, fractures, and sensitivity. Stress is a major factor in teeth grinding so finding ways to relax prior to bedtime will be the long term goal. Your dentist can fabricate a custom night guard for you to protect your teeth and help stop the habit.
4. Choosing not to Floss. Brushing and flossing are equally important. Many people use the excuse that they are really good brushers so they do not need to floss. But that is not the case. Flossing at least once per day is one of the best things you can do for maintenance of your teeth. Flossing helps remove plaque and food debris from around the teeth, in between the teeth and along the gum line. This will help prevent the onset of periodontal disease. Flossing will also help control bad breath by removing the bacteria and food debris causing it in most cases.
5. Brushing at the wrong time. We have always been taught to brush after every meal. But recent studies have shown that depending on what you are consuming it might no be the best idea for you. After eating or drinking foods high in acid (like soft drinks, citrus fruits, or even wine) it is best to rinse with water first to neutralize the acids and then brush about an hour or so later. Researchers have shown this is because right after exposing our teeth to the high acid environment the enamel weakens and the brushing action could cause tooth enamel erosion. So its best to rinse first to neutralize the acid and then brush later.
6. Chewing Ice. This is especially dangerous for your molars in the back of your mouth. Chewing on ice presents an advanced challenge to our teeth. The tremendous forces needed to break thru the ice can crack your teeth or existing fillings. Our molars have pointy edges called cusps and can shear off and break from chewing ice. The coldness of ice can cause the nerves connected to the teeth to get damaged as well. An alternative to crushing the ice with your teeth and let the ice cube melt in your mouth.
7. Sports drinks. These types of drinks have become extremely popular among athletes as well as the general population. But they are hazardous to your teeth. Sports drinks are highly acidic just like soft drinks. This means they can have the same effect as soft drinks in eroding away a tooth's enamel. Also many of these drinks are high in sugar content which can lead to increased risk for tooth decay.
8. Nail Biting. This is the most commonly found bad habit in children and even adults. When thinking, during stressed times, people tend to put their nails under their teeth and bite on them continuously. This is an unhygienic habit as all the dirt from the nails will enter your mouth. When you bite on your nails this dirt enters your mouth with your saliva. Also your teeth tend to chip and break when you bite your nails often.
9. White wine. Many people enjoy a glass of wine from time to time whether just relaxing at the end of a long day or with dinner. Most know that red wine can cause staining on teeth so many of us drink white wine. White wine can be just as damaging but in a different way. White wine is extremely acidic and can cause permanent damage to your teeth thru enamel erosion. A good tip is following drinking a glass of white wine rinse out your mouth with water to neutralize and cleanse the acids away.
10. Skipping Regular Dental Exams and Cleanings. Even if you brush and floss as recommended, dental plaque and calculus can build up on surface tooth enamel and below the gum line. Periodic dental exams and professional cleanings every 6 months can greatly lower your risk of tooth decay, tooth loss and periodontal disease.
By Marielaina Perrone DDS
Henderson Cosmetic Dentist