It is widely known that certain foods and drinks are detrimental to your teeth and gums. Hard, chewy candy, starchy foods, coffee, tea and soda are likely to pop into your head when you think of foods you should avoid to keep your teeth strong, healthy and pearly white.
Besides your diet, did you know that some of your innocent little habits can be just as detrimental, if not more so than those bad foods and drinks?
Here is a list of some of the worst habits for your teeth:
Biting your nails. This nervous or habit of boredom may seem innocent enough, but it is slowly wearing down your teeth. Nails can be hard and the constant gnawing of them causes the enamel of the teeth to crack, chip and weaken. When the enamel is weakened, the teeth become more brittle and are prone to breakage and cracking.
Using your teeth as tools. Similar wearing down of the teeth happen when you use your teeth as tools to open things. The teeth are exposed to a lot of force which can crack the enamel on the top of the tooth.
Chewing ice cubes. One may think chewing on an ice cube on a hot summer day is fun, refreshing and harmless. After all, the ice is easily broken into pieces. Surely teeth are stronger than ice.
Sure, the ice melts in the mouth, but the pieces of the ice can be sharp and jagged, scratching the enamel of the teeth.
Grinding or clenching your jaw. Your teeth weren’t meant to bear the consistent, extreme pressure that is in grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw. When you constantly grind your teeth, the rubbing of the two teeth surfaces causes the enamel of both to get worn down.
If you’re in the habit of clenching your jaw, the pressure exerted onto the teeth can cause them to crack and possibly chip and break.
Not using a mouth guard. For those who are active in contact sports or sports where injury to the face can occur, a mouth guard is highly recommended. When a permanent (adult) tooth is knocked out, it may be able to get reinserted by a dentist in a dental emergency. If the knocked-out tooth isn’t promptly treated, the tooth will die and won’t be able to be replaced. Unlike primary (baby) teeth, permanent teeth don’t have replacement teeth that grow into its place should it fall out.
Broken or chipped teeth also require prompt treatment or the damage is permanent and will need future dental work.
Constant snacking. Eating snacks throughout the day while at work or out and about without an adequate way to clean your teeth can increase your chance of tooth decay and gum disease. Carrying floss picks and rinsing your mouth with water after snacking are ways you can reduce the amount of trapped food particles stuck between teeth.
When the teeth aren’t washed and rinsed regularly after snacking, the lodged food particles break down and decay, producing an enamel-eating film on the teeth.
Cough drops. Cough drops are infamous sugar bombs though many people discount this as they associate them with medicine.
While they are medicine and they ease your sore throat and cough, their sugar content is disastrous for your teeth. The devastating effects of cough drops are also exacerbated when taken overnight as one’s saliva production decreases.
It is important promptly and thoroughly brush your teeth in the morning and in the evening before going to bed.
Mouth piercings. Okay, this is not a habit, but a reversible decision. While piercings of the lips or tongue may look cool, the metal of the stud or ring constantly bangs against teeth, which can slowly crack and chip them over time.
Smoking or using tobacco. It has long been known that tobacco products are bad for your teeth and gums. Tobacco destroys the tissues of the gums and inside of the mouth. Those who use tobacco risk severe gum disease which can lead to lost teeth. Tobacco also causes cancer of the mouth and throat which can be fatal if not treated promptly.
We all have little habits we do on a regular basis. Unfortunately, not all these habits are as innocent and harmless as we think. Some, like nail biting, snacking and jaw clenching can destroy teeth enamel, the protective barrier on the surface of teeth that keeps the teeth hard and white.
Going in to see your dentist on a regular basis helps you stay on top of any dental health issues and the bad habits you have that may be contributing to it.