We dentists love to remind patients about best oral health practices. You’re on the front lines of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. One of the best ways to improve your oral health is by brushing and flossing daily. But there are also other factors to consider, like what you eat and put in your mouth. Some of your bad habits or involuntary, while other you can control.
Today I have a list of dental habits that are killing your teeth and smile. Try to digest this information as you think about other ways to improve your oral health. Here is my list:
1. Smoking or using tobacco. If you don’t smoke or use tobacco, I applaud you. Please don’t start, either! Thanks to good public health information, most people understand that smoking can kill you. But smoking or using tobacco also increases your risk of oral cancers or problems like tooth decay and gum disease. We’ve found that the majority of people with oral cancer smoke or use smokeless tobacco. Additionally, gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
2. Using teeth as tools and chewing on hard object. Your teeth are meant to chew through things, not against things. That means things like chewing on ice, pens, or pencils can damage your teeth. Teeth are extremely hard and can withstand huge amounts of biting force, but unfortunately, our teeth can break down or fail. Chewing on hard objects can cause chips, cracks, or even breaks.
3. Not wearing a mouthguard. Sporting events claim about 5 million teeth every year! Wearing a mouthguard greatly reduces the risk of having your teeth knocked out. A mouthguard will distribute the blow across your mouth instead of having the trauma directed on one tooth. Our office creates custom mouthguards that fit snuggly over your teeth to protect your mouth.
4. Drinking soda. I have some patients who practically live off soda. You probably know how most dentists feel about soda. Put simply, it’s the common enemy of any dentist. Soda is packed with sugar, which we know is a major culprit of tooth decay. Many citrus sodas like Sprite or 7 Up also contain citric acid. Like sugar, citric acid can contribute to tooth decay. If you must drink soda, monitor your intake and rinse your mouth out with water afterward.
5. Using the same toothbrush. Your toothbrush will not last forever. It can wear down over time and accumulate unhealthy bacteria. Look at your toothbrush like any other tool in your garage. When it warps or wears out, it’s more or less useless. An old toothbrush cannot properly clean the areas of your mouth. The American Dental Association suggests that patients swap out their toothbrushes — or toothbrush tip — once every three to four months.
6. Not flossing. Floss is your friend and best protector against cavities and gum disease. When you do not floss, you cannot clean about 35 percent of your tooth. That’s right, more than one-third of your tooth lies beneath the gumline. When you take a shower, do you clean just 65 percent of your body? I doubt it, so don’t clean just 65 percent of your tooth.
7. Clenching or grinding. Tooth grinding or clenching puts stress on the jaw and teeth and often causes tooth chips, cracks, or fractures. Most patients who grind or clench their teeth do so at night. The habit is typically involuntarily. Your teeth and jaw can suffer the consequences of grinding or clenching. With the pressure of tooth grinding or clenching, patients can experience jaw pains or serious headaches. A trained dentist can spot early signs of clenching or grinding. We can also give you a comfortable oral appliance that will protect your teeth at night.
There you have it: seven dental habits that are ruining your smile. Steering clear of these habits will lead you to better oral health. If you due for a cleaning or exam, call our office at 503-917-0523.
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