You brush and floss religiously, and you’d never dream of missing your twice-yearly dental checkups. Good for you! But, you may be wondering, if I’m taking good care of my teeth, why don’t they look pristine?
Well, taking care of your mouth goes far beyond the basics of brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist. Your daily habits can have a significant effect — for better or for worse — on the state of your teeth and gums.
If you live in or around Aberdeen, SD, call Aberdeen Smiles at (605) 277-9049 to schedule your next appointment. And if you are guilty of any of the following smile-ruining behaviors, try to put them in the past.
Brushing Too Hard
Brushing your teeth regularly is a good thing. Brushing for two minutes is a good thing. But brushing too hard is not a good thing. We love your enthusiasm for taking care of your teeth, but scrubbing vigorously will not make them cleaner or healthier. In fact, it can scrape off the enamel and damage the gums, leading to gum recession and disease. It’s also important to use a soft-bristled toothbrush, as medium- and hard-bristled brushes can be damaging too.
This one’s a no-brainer. Smoking and chewing tobacco are terrible for your overall health, and for your mouth specifically. Here are just a few reasons to throw your cigarettes in the trash for good.
- Smoking stains your teeth yellow
- Smoking gives you bad breath
- Smokers have more plaque and tartar on their teeth, and have a greatly increased chance of developing gum disease
- Smokers take more time to heal after oral surgery
- Smokers who get dental implants have a lower success rate than non-smokers
- Smokers have a higher risk of developing oral cancer
The nasty bacteria that cause plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth just love sweet drinks like soda, juice, and sports drinks. These beverages give the microbes a nice layer of sugar to feast on and convert into enamel-destroying acid. If you love your teeth, try eliminating — or at least severely reducing — your consumption of these sugary drinks.
Hydrate yourself with water, instead. When you drink water between meals, you rinse bacteria and food particles from your mouth. It’s a great way to keep your teeth and gums clean through the course of the day.
Eating Chewy Sweets
Here’s something marketing departments don’t want you to know: just because something has the words “fruit” or “real fruit” in it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Case in point: those chewy “fruit snacks” and “fruit rollups.” The combination of sugar and gumminess makes them particularly bad for the teeth, as they get stuck in the grooves where they provide a feast for bacteria. Same with soft granola bars and even dried fruits like raisins.
Whole fresh fruits like apples, on the other hand, are an excellent snack choice. They do contain sugar, but their water and fiber content help stimulate saliva flow and keep the mouth clean.
Grinding Your Teeth
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, often happens at night. Over time, it can damage your teeth and jaw joints, leading to headaches, jaw pain, and muscle stiffness from the face all the way down to the upper back. Stress is often a factor in teeth grinding. Try relaxation techniques to reduce tension and stop this destructive habit.
This nervous habit not only makes a mess of your nails, but it can damage your mouth as well. Nail biting can wear down and even break your front teeth. If your nails have sharp edges, they may tear or rip your gum tissue. And when you chew on your nails, you risk harmful bacteria from your mouth transferring to the nails — and vice-versa. According to one study, people who bite their nails may be at an increased risk for bruxism, or teeth grinding.
Using Teeth as Tools
We’ve all done it. That bag of potato chips is calling your name, but the scissors are in another room. So you rip it open with your teeth. Or you’re enjoying a nice snack of shell-on nuts, but you don’t have a nutcracker. So you crack them open with your perfect pearly whites.
Yes, we’ve all done it, but now is the time to stop doing it. Your teeth were not designed to crack hard shells and rip open stubborn bags. Using your teeth in ways for which they were not intended can lead to cracks, chips, and, eventually, malocclusion and TMJ pain.
Be good to your teeth. If you treat them well and practice excellent oral hygiene, chances are they will stay healthy and strong for life. And don’t forget your twice-yearly dental visits. If you live in or around Aberdeen, SD, make an appointment at Aberdeen Smiles. We have a handy online contact form, or may be reached by phone at (605) 277-9049.