When it comes to dental health and hygiene, you’d be amazed at what a difference a little awareness makes. Just by understanding certain bad habits and paying attention to how you’re treating your teeth, you’ll be able to care for your dental health much more effectively. For instance, you might be doing some considerable damage to your teeth every day without even realizing it!
Everyone has bad habits. Sometimes, these bad habits are harmless, and may even help us cope with stress or anxiety. Other times, however, even innocuous habits can have severe consequences. The four habits we list here are, unfortunately, examples of the latter type. Here’s how your habit might hurt your teeth, and why you’re better off without it:
No habit could be worse for your teeth than smoking. Regular smoking can inflict terrible damage on your teeth, gums, bones, and dental health. According to the CDC, smokers are twice as likely to develop gum disease as non-smokers. Not only does smoking compromise your immune system, it also enhances the growth of bacteria and plaque in your mouth. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can even affect the bone beneath your gums, leading to serious infection.
The nicotine and tar in tobacco can turn teeth yellow or brown-ish in a very short period of time. The chemicals seep into the hard components of teeth, so even regular brushing won’t help. Smoking also interferes with your mouth’s ability to recover. Cigarette smoke lowers the amount of oxygen flowing in the bloodstream. Without that oxygen, it’s harder for your body to heal damaged gums and the supporting bone. There’s no way around it: smoking is terrible for the health of your teeth and mouth.
Eating Sticky Foods
When we say “sticky” foods, we’re talking about anything that tends to stick to your teeth. Candies like gummy snacks and licorice fit this description, but so do foods that are traditionally considered healthy, like dried fruit. Sticky sweet or sour foods like candy are especially bad, because they contain acids that eat away at teeth. Just imagine what happens when they sit on your teeth for hours!
As a general rule, watch out for any food that gets stuck on or in your teeth. The longer that food stays on your teeth, the more damage it can do. Food contains natural acids that wear away at the enamel on your teeth over time. When enamel becomes thinner, teeth become considerably more vulnerable to a wide variety of problems. Evaluate your “snack” foods. If they’re getting caught on your teeth, consider switching them out for something else.
Grinding your teeth
The medical term for teeth grinding is “bruxism.” People grind their teeth for all kinds of reasons. Often, it’s connected to stress or anxiety. Often, people grind their teeth in their sleep without even realizing it. This condition is called “sleep bruxism.” The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 8% of adults occasionally grind their teeth at night. Other people may grind their teeth subconsciously at multiple points during the day.
Bruxism is a problem because it puts your teeth under a lot of undue strain. All that grinding wears away at the enamel on your teeth. In some cases, bruxism can even grind down the height of the teeth, doing permanent damage. If your teeth ever hurt or feel sensitive after you wake up, you might grind in your sleep. Constant grinding also strains your neck and jaw muscles, which can lead to daily discomfort and soreness. If you think you have bruxism, ask your dentist about a mouth guard during your next appointment.
Sipping on soda all day
You’re probably already aware that soda is particularly hard on your teeth. Most sodas are made with one or more common acid: citric acid, carbonic acid, and phosphoric acid. In addition, the sugar in soda combines with the natural bacteria in your mouth to produce even more acid. That acid eats away at the enamel on your teeth, causing decay. Each acid attack starts after a sip of soda and lasts around 20 minutes. Even diet or sugar-free soda can generate this acid and hurt your teeth. And just to be fair to sodas, the same thing also happens with popular non-soda drinks like lemonade, iced tea, and sports drinks.
Some soda-drinking habits are worse than others. If you must drink soda, it’s best to drink it all at once during a meal. The most damaging way to drink soda is to sip it slowly over several hours. When you drink soda that way, you’re restarting the acid attack every time you take a sip. That acid stays in your mouth working away at your teeth pretty much all day. That goes for drinking several sodas in one day, too.
Now that you know you’re hurting your teeth, think about that whenever you’re tempted by your habit. Indulging your habit now will never be worth the tooth pain you may endure for it later. By breaking these habits, you’ll be going a long way toward a happy, healthy dental future.
If you need some help making that future a reality, give ImmediaDent a call any time. Our experts are always ready and willing to help set you on the right path toward dental health.