Every time we enjoy our favourite food or talk with our friends, we use our teeth. The teeth play an important role in our physical health and bodily functions. They help us chew food properly so that it can be easily digested and absorbed by our bodies, enable correct pronunciation of words, and enhance our facial structure.
As much as we fervently brush and floss our teeth, some people have bad habits that are damaging to the teeth. These daily habits, if not prevented, can have a long-term impact on the health of our pearly whites. Some people tend to continue with these routine habits without knowing how certain foods and drinks and physical activities can ruin their dental health.
Keep your teeth healthy by steering away from these tooth-damaging habits:
- Smoking – cigarettes and other tobacco products (including vaping) are not only damaging to your general health; they can also put you at risk for several dental problems.
Smoking stains teeth, can cause gum and periodontal disease, and can even result in premature tooth loss. It can reduce the production of saliva, increasing the risk of bad breath (caused by harmful bacteria and food decomposition) and tooth decay.
Of course, it goes without saying that tobacco products are the primary cause of most oral cancers.
- Nail-Biting – Biting your nail does not only cause cracking, chipping, or wearing down of your teeth; it also causes jaw dysfunction. When biting your nails, your jaws are positioned at an unnatural angle by pushing your lower jaw out of line. Over time, this leads to temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a dental health condition characterized by a painful jaw. Additionally, biting your nails can introduce harmful bacteria into your mouth.
- Thumb-Sucking – Thumb-sucking is acceptable for a teething young infant, but for children ages five and up, with permanent teeth, it can cause an overbite or incorrect alignment of the teeth. This may require the aid of orthodontic treatment to correct.
- Brushing Too Hard – Some people brush their teeth too hard, believing that it cleans and removes plaque from the surface of their teeth. However, aggressive brushing can cause enamel erosion and gum irritation over time. Instead, brush your teeth less vigorously for two minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Grinding Your Teeth – Many people subconsciously grind their teeth, especially while sleeping. This condition is known as bruxism, a condition caused by either stress or sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea. Over time, this habit can result in jaw pain, headaches, premature wear and tear of the teeth, and a misaligned jaw. Additionally, grinding your teeth can lead to fractured or chipped teeth, requiring new crowns or dental implants. If left untreated, it can cause joint and muscle dysfunction and chronic facial pain.
- Using Your Teeth as a Tool – Using your teeth to open packages or bottles is never a good idea. This bad habit may lead to dental emergencies, such as a chipped or cracked tooth. You may require a dental implant to replace the damaged tooth. Use scissors or a bottle opener next time and your teeth will thank you.
- Drinking Too Much Coffee – Like cigarette and tobacco smoking, coffee can also stain your teeth. Adding more sugar and drinking several cups of coffee every day can turn your teeth dull and yellow in colour. Sugar can also increase your risk of tooth decay.
- Binge-Eating – Binge-eating is never good for your health. It can lead to various health problems, including obesity, eating disorders, and poor dental health. The primary dental concerns with binge-eating involve eating unhealthy foods and when we binge-eat. Harmful bacteria can feed off leftover food particles and sugars between teeth. When bacteria feed on sugar, they produce acids that weaken the enamel, damaging your teeth and gums.
Binge-eating also frequently occurs outside of our regular meal times, often late in the evening or at night. This may result in going to sleep with unbrushed teeth.
Make sure to brush your teeth within 30 minutes to an hour of eating to prevent tooth decay.
- Misuse of Toothpicks – Toothpicks are created to remove gunk stuck between the teeth. However, misusing toothpicks can cause enamel damage and scratches on the surface of the teeth. Also, shoving toothpick deep within the crack of your teeth causes the teeth to shift and form gaps.
- Inadequate Hydration – Proper hydration is an under-appreciated secret for healthy teeth. When brushing is not an option, drinking a glass of water helps wash away the food particles, bacteria, and acid from your mouth. Drinking water after consuming stain-causing foods (like red wine or coffee) will also rinse away the tannins and other stain-causing chemicals, keeping your teeth whiter and brighter.
Like your body, your teeth can also become dehydrated, due to inadequate hydration or mouth-breathing. Proper hydration will keep your teeth (and gums) healthier and stronger.
3 Good Habits That Will Keep Your Teeth Healthy
We are all human and may find ourselves caught with these bad habits from time to time. Bad habits are hard to break; but mending your ways can give your dental health a significant boost.
Make these three good dental practices your new habits to keep dental problems at bay:
- Brush Regularly, Not Aggressively – Brushing your teeth twice daily removes plaque and keep the teeth clean. However, this can only be effective using proper technique. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush your teeth gently in small, circular motions for about two to three minutes. Avoid brushing your teeth too hard to prevent any damage to the enamel and gums. When the teeth become badly eroded, it can lead to sensitivity.
- Do Not Smoke – Cigarette smoking affects the body’s ability to heal tissues by harming the immune system. Smokers often experience a slow healing rate after getting a dental procedure. Also, smoking can be a significant risk factor for gum diseases and bad breath.
- Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet – The foods we eat play a significant factor in both our general health and oral health. Make sure to incorporate healthy foods, such as nuts, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and chicken in your diet as they are beneficial for your oral health. For instance, cheese stimulates the salivary glands to increase saliva production to help neutralize the acid in your mouth.
Getting rid of bad habits and gaining good ones is not a reason to avoid having a regular dental exam. Do your best to keep your teeth healthy, and leave the rest to your local Sarnia family dentist.
Make it a habit to schedule a regular dental checkup for a full oral examination or teeth cleaning. Call Lambton Family Dental to book a consultation or visit our dental office at 387 Exmouth St., Sarnia, Ontario.