We all know it is important to brush twice daily and floss as often as we can. Though, this may not happen daily – for the most part taking care of your teeth is relatively easy, right? Wrong. There are a number of things you should be keeping in mind throughout the day other than making sure you brush in the morning and the evening.
The following is the list of the top 10 worst things you may be doing to your teeth:
Using your teeth as tools
Have you ever opened up a beer bottle with your teeth, or used your teeth to rip open a plastic package? If you have, now would be the time to stop doing those things. When using your teeth as tools it can be severely damaging, especially to the edges of your teeth. It can cause friction, crack or even a chip in your tooth. Think about what you need before resorting to using your teeth. If you have trouble opening jars or packages keep a spare set of scissors and pliers around the house.
Grinding your teeth
This behavior is usually caused by stress and anxiety and sometimes it happens when you are asleep and you have no control over what your teeth are doing while you’re dreaming away. This behavior also stems from having missing, crooked or chipped teeth. Sometimes fixing this problem is as easy as being aware you are grinding your teeth and actively deciding not to each time you notice yourself doing it. Other times your dentist may suggest wearing a specially fitted mouth guard while you sleep to avoid constant stress of grinding on your teeth. If you do grind your teeth you may also want to avoid drinking excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol.
Using a brush with too firm bristles
Most people think that the harder the brush the more plaque and tartar will be ripped away from your teeth while brushing. However, this is not always true and it’s especially harmful for older persons. With age, your gums push back exposing your roots. The roots are covered with cementum, which is more easily worn away than enamel. A brush with too firm bristles may irritate your gums and create sensitivity.
Having large ice cubes in your drink may seem refreshing on a hot day, but when you crunch down on that ice you could potentially fracture your teeth. The brittleness and the cold can actually cause microscopic cracks in the enamel or your teeth, which can cause more serious problems over time. Crushed ice is better for your teeth but it is still not recommended by most dentists.
Saliva is important for your dental and oral health. Saliva controls the acidity levels in your mouth as well as creates minerals for your teeth to protect your enamel. Dry mouth puts you at risk for cavities, enamel erosion, and perhaps worst of all for the people around you; bad breath. To get rid of dry mouth you should not drink excessively, do not use mouth wash with alcohol, chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow, limit your caffeine intake, and stop smoking or chewing tobacco.
Sugary Foods/Beverages – including cough drops
Sugary foods and beverages lead to tooth decay. Oral bacteria love sugar and they can create cavity causing acid as they digest it. Soda can have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving, they also contain phosphoric acid and citric acids that wear away at enamel. Cough drops may seem healthy but not only are they loaded with sugar, you’re also crunching down on them like a hard candy which can cause fractures and chips in your teeth.
This is like using your teeth as tools, except way more common. Nail biting can create forces that wear down your teeth and fracture and chip the tooth. There is also a lot of bacteria and germs underneath your nails that end up in your mouth when using your teeth as nail clippers.
Playing sports without a mouth guard
Any contact sport poses a risk to your physical health but your oral health as well. Mouth guards protect your teeth from a blow to the face or the head. They reduce the risk of damage to your teeth – especially if you’re not wearing a helmet or face guard.
Incorrect brushing technique
Brushing correctly is just as important as brushing at all. One of the most common mistakes is completely missing whole areas of your mouth. You need to make sure every tooth is cleaned on its entire surface. It is also important not to brush too heavily on your gums, when brushing your gums gently flick the brush from the base of the gum down as to not irritate or cause them to bleed.
Not replacing your toothbrush regularly
Toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 months. Once the bristles start to bend or loosen it is time to replace the brush. Using a toothbrush for too long invites infections and bacteria to fester in your mouth. The best strategy is to buy multiple toothbrushes when shopping so that you always have a spare in the house when it comes time to use one.