5 Habits That Hurt Your Teeth & Gums
- March 1, 2018
Preventive dental care encompasses practices that keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and free of disease. It is the best way to maintain your dental health for life, and to avoid the need for expensive and time-consuming restorative procedures.
You may already know you should brush and floss regularly and visit us at Contemporary Dentistry & Implantology for regular checkups. But it’s also important to take a close look at your daily habits and how they affect your teeth and gums.
Read on to learn about five bad dental habits that you should eliminate from your life. Then call Contemporary Dentistry & Implantology of Peabody, MA at 978-278-1760 to schedule a cleaning and exam.
Brushing Too Hard
Thorough brushing is a cornerstone of good dental health. But while it’s important to reach every surface of your teeth, brushing with too much pressure does more harm than good. It will wear down your tooth enamel (which doesn’t replenish itself) and potentially injure your gums and cause them to recede.
Always brush for two minutes at a time, twice per day. Get the fronts, backs, and chewing surfaces of the teeth, pay attention to the gumline, and brush your tongue, which may harbor harmful bacteria. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and again, be gentle!
We don’t have to tell you that smoking is bad for you. Really bad for you. It is directly responsible for innumerable cases of lung disease, cancer, and other serious afflictions. The Centers for Disease Control says that almost half a million Americans annually die from smoking-related disease.
Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco also affect your teeth and gums specifically in a variety of ways.
- Stain your teeth and tongue an unappealing shade of yellow
- Make your breath smell bad
- Dull your senses of taste and smell
- Lower your resistance to infection and increase likelihood of developing gum disease
- Make gum disease more difficult to treat
- Slow down healing after oral surgery
- Decrease your chances of dental implant success
- Cause oral cancer
When you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth — also known as bruxism — you risk wearing down your tooth enamel, damaging your gums, cracking or breaking a tooth, and developing headaches, jaw pain, and other TMJ-related problems.
This behavior is often caused or exacerbated by stress. If you can’t get rid of the source of the anxiety, you can try to mitigate it with relaxation techniques.
At Contemporary Dentistry & Implantology, we can craft a custom mouthguard that you wear at night, when bruxism behaviors often takes place. This oral appliance keeps your jaw in a position that promotes healing and prevents clenching and grinding.
Snacking Between Meals
You probably know that what you eat affects your oral health, but did you know that how you eat matters too? Yes, it’s true. For the well-being of your teeth and gums, it’s best to eat defined meals and avoid snacking through the day.
Every time you eat, the food particles left in your mouth nourish bad bacteria, which proliferate and create acids that attack your tooth enamel. If you eat meals, your teeth will endure an acid attack after each one. If however, you snack frequently, your mouth will be under constant attack. A nasty bacterial film will even form over your teeth.
It doesn’t help that most snack foods are high in sugars and starches, which happen to be what bacteria love to feast on.
If you are craving a between-meal nibble, stick to a tooth-friendly food like carrots and celery with hummus, a handful of nuts, low-sugar yogurt, or an apple.
Drinking Your Sugar
Sodas, sports drinks, fruit juices, and flavored milks are all loaded with sugar. And when you drink them — especially if you have a habit of sipping them throughout the day — you coat your mouth in dissolved sugar that seeps into all of the crevices of your teeth and stays there. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you should know what happens next: bacteria feed on the sugar and multiply, they generate acids, and those acids go to work on your tooth enamel. And don’t think you’re off the hook by switching to diet soda. These acidic beverages damage your tooth enamel even though they don’t contain sugar.
Trade your sugary drink habit with a water habit. This keeps your mouth clean by rinsing away bacteria, food particles, and diluting acids.
End these bad dental habits, and you will be rewarded with a lifetime of better oral health. If you live in or around Peabody, MA, schedule a cleaning and exam at Contemporary Dentistry & Implantology. Call 978-278-1760 or fill out our web form.