We all know the basics when it comes to keeping your teeth healthy: brush, floss, visit the dentist twice a year. But there are habits and lifestyle choices that could be harming your dental health that will surprise you.
In this article, you will learn some of the nasty habits to avoid to protect your teeth from tooth decay and discoloration. Learn what causes teeth grinding, the best ways to keep your teeth white, and how to avoid cavities by making simple, effective changes to your daily habits.
Avoid Chewing Ice
Chewing ice is a seemingly harmless, often unconscious habit. But ice chewing can cause permanent damage to our teeth, putting small cracks in the enamel.
These cracks can grow larger over time and ultimately cause a tooth to fracture, requiring a visit to the dentist and unnecessary expense to get the cracks fixed. If you find yourself chewing ice as a habit, try opting for chilled water instead, or order your drinks without ice to resist the harmful urge to chew those cubes.
Sports Without a Mouth Guard
You wouldn’t play football without a helmet, would you? Why play a sport without a mouth guard then? Going out on the playing field without something to protect your teeth is as important as wearing a helmet and other protective body gear.
Believe it or not, an estimated 5 million teeth are knocked out every year through sports. According to the American Dental Association, mouth guards prevent 200,000 sports-related mouth injuries every year. Those who lose teeth from rough play probably wish they had put their mouth guards in first. Wouldn’t you?
Who Should Wear a Mouth Guard?
Your teeth are vulnerable to being knocked out or damaged from high impact sports such as
mixed martial arts, and
In fact the Academy for Sports Dentistry recommends mouth guards for more than 40 different sports. A sports mouth guard helps cushion hard blows to the teeth and jaw. It has the added health benefit of protecting the soft tissues of your lips, tongue, cheeks, and gums from being sliced by your teeth. Not only that, some believe it may offer a little shock absorption to protect you from a concussion as well.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Tired parents might be tempted to do anything to get their restless babies to sleep. Although it is tempting, avoid sending your bouncing bundle of joy to bed with a bottle in his or her mouth. That’s because of a condition called baby bottle tooth decay.
What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Bottles of milk at bedtime increase the risk of early dental decay in baby’s mouth. Prolonged exposure of the sugar in milk works with mouth bacteria to break down tooth enamel and results in rampant decay.
Here are some tips to help you protect your baby’s teeth to ensure a healthy upbringing:
Don’t send baby to bed with a bottle unless that bottle only contains water.
Skip the sippy cup: only use regular cups and begin introducing them between ages six and eight months.
Wean your baby off the bottle by the time he or she turns 1.
As soon as you see the teeth pop up, start brushing them at least once a day.
Avoid sticky, sweet, starchy snacks that can lead to tooth decay. Instead try whole grains, cheese, plain yogurt, fruits, and vegetables.
Encourage your children to drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda, juice, and sports drinks.
Tongue piercings are a trend that can come at a hefty price in terms of cost to your health. Highly discouraged by dentists, tongue piercings can cause lots of problems to the teeth, and to the mouth overall. Here are some of the potential health hazards of tongue piercings:
They may cause teeth to chip or break, requiring dental work.
They can also rub against the gums and cause permanent gum recession, which can lead to sensitivity and even tooth loss.
The mouth has millions of bacteria. Mouth jewelry can encourage bacterial buildup, creating an overall unhealthy situation.
Repeatedly clicking the jewelry against teeth can damage teeth and fillings, and so can accidentally biting down too hard on the piercing.
Piercings can become infected. This is especially dangerous in the mouth, where a swollen tongue could cut off breathing, causing you to choke.
Some people experience allergic reactions to the metal in piercings.
Piercings can numb your tongue due to nerve damage. This is usually temporary, but it may wind up being permanent.
The piercing can interfere with dental x-rays.
In some cases, tongue piercings can cause teeth to gap by being forced between them repeatedly.
If you find yourself grinding your teeth, you’re not alone. In the US, roughly 30 to 40 million people grind their teeth. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can be an inherited trait, and it is often linked to stress or anxiety. While teeth grinding can happen at any time, many people grind their teeth in their sleep without knowing it.
Teeth grinding may pose an assortment of health problems to your mouth. These include:
Because teeth grinding often happens while asleep, many people don’t realize they’re doing it. Some symptoms of teeth grinding include
neck aches, earaches, and dull headaches,
a jaw that’s tired and sore, and
a clicking sound when you open your mouth.
Talk to a dentist if you suspect you may be grinding your teeth. Your dentist may recommend one of the following treatments:
a mouth guard,
a bite adjustment (correcting the way your top and bottom teeth fit together),
reducing stress, and
medications to relieve sore muscles.
A cough drop may ease a sore throat, but many of them can make dental problems worse. Cough drops have a lot of sugar. Sucking on them bathes your teeth in that sugar.
With a mouth full of sugar, bacteria proliferate. As they do, your chances of tooth decay and gum disease increase, too.
Rather than suck down typical cough drops, look for sugar-free options instead.
Most people know that sugar can lead to cavities. But some sugary foods are worse than others. Candy that sticks to the teeth can get stuck between the crevices of a tooth, and saliva can’t wash it away. Some sugary treats to avoid include
gummy candies (gummy bears, gummy worms, etc.),
raisins and other dried fruits, and
Most of these candies can be found in sugar-free varieties. Choose these instead for healthier teeth. At a minimum, good tooth brushing and flossing after consuming these goodies can help, too.
High sugar and acid content make for a bad combination for your teeth. Frequent soda drinking will essentially bathe your teeth in sugar and can lead to dental decay.
Additionally, increased acid exposure works to erode tooth enamel and can lead to teeth sensitivity.
If you insist on drinking soda, try these tips:
Cut back on the soda you drink every day.
Opt for the healthier thirst-quencher, water.
Minimize the erosion of enamel by rinsing with water after your teeth have been exposed to acidic beverages.
Try sipping acidic drinks through a straw to avoid contact with the teeth.
Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing with a soft toothbrush after acid exposure to avoid further breakdown and wear of your enamel.
Tearing Into Packaging With Teeth
Teeth are meant for eating and smiling! Any other use can be unhealthy; your teeth are not knives, and they’re not scissors either.
Although it may seem convenient in the short term, opening potato chip bags, bobby pins, or even bottle caps with your teeth can cause teeth to chip or fracture. To save your teeth, reach for the proper tools for such tasks instead.
It may seem healthier than soda, but sports drinks bring many of the same problems. Both contain lots of sugar and acids, plus the sugar encourages acid-producing bacteria to proliferate in your mouth, causing tooth decay. To avoid the risk of decay and dental enamel erosion, opt for refreshing, calorie-free and fat-free water instead.
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