5 Habits that Hurt Your Oral Health

Natural Smiles • Sep 13, 2017

Taking care of your mouth is not just about brushing, flossing, going to the dentist, and then being done with it. It’s essential to think about how you treat your teeth and gums day in and day out.
The following bad dental habits can lead to decay, damage your teeth, and require expensive and invasive fixes. To book an appointment and learn more, call Natural Smiles of Louisville, KY at(502) 414-0146.
1) Smoking
Okay, you know this already, but we’ll say it again. Smoking is bad for you. Smoking is really bad for you and in all sorts of ways. That goes for chewing tobacco too. But how does tobacco use affect your teeth and gums specifically?
Tobacco stains your teeth yellow.Tobacco gives you bad breath.Tobacco can dull your senses — food just won’t smell or taste as good.Smokers are more susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup on their teeth and bone loss in their jaws.Smokers have a much higher risk of developing gum disease than non-smokers. And their periodontal disease is more resistant to treatment.Smokers take longer to heal after dental procedures.Smokers have a lower dental-implant success rate.Smokers are more likely to develop oral cancer.We understand quitting tobacco is difficult. We really do. But, for the sake of your oral and overall health, it’s worth doing whatever you can to break this bad habit.

2) Overindulging in Sweets
You probably know this one, too. Sugar is bad for your teeth. But don’t worry, you don’t need to cut out sugar completely from your diet. The key is to limit the amount of sugar you (and your kids) ingest, and avoiding some of the worst offenders.
Sweet drinks (juice, soda, “sports drinks,” chocolate and other flavored milks) basically coat the teeth in a layer of sugar. We know that it’s tough to eliminate this stuff completely, especially if your kids attend parties, but don’t keep these products in the house or make them a habit. Good choices are water and unsweetened white milk (which contains tooth-boosting calcium).
A little bit of chocolate or a cookie once in a while isn’t going to hurt. You don’t have to forbid your kids from eating a piece of cake at a birthday party. But try to avoid sweet, chewy foods that can get stuck in the backs of the teeth, attracting bacteria and causing decay. Things like soft granola bars, gummy candy, chewy fruit snacks, and rollups. Dried fruit, although it contains healthy fiber and nutrients, is not a good choice for your teeth.    

3) Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth
Teeth clenching and grinding not only wear down your teeth, but they can cause problems with your TMJ, or temporomandibular joint. Symptoms can be varied and debilitating, ranging from jaw pain and tenderness to earaches to potentially severe headaches. If this habit tends to manifest at night, you may not even be aware you are doing it.
Try to minimize stress in your life, practice relaxation techniques, and cut back on caffeine. If those measures don’t help, Dr. Gill can craft a custom mouthguard to protect your TMJ at night and promote healing. She also offers Botox® treatments, which can help by relaxing the facial muscles.

4) Brushing Too Vigorously
We get it. You are enthusiastic about your oral hygiene. We are too! But while brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time is a good thing, brushing too hard will actually do more damage than good. It can wear away your tooth enamel, leading to sensitivity, and cause your gums to recede from the teeth. This eventually may expose the sensitive tooth roots. The idea isn’t to scrub your teeth, it’s to gently remove bacteria and plaque. So pay attention to the pressure you’re using to brush, and always buy soft-bristled toothbrushes. It’s much easier to harm your teeth with medium- and firm-bristled toothbrushes.

5) Your Teeth Are Not Tools
You have a stubborn bag of chips you really want to open, but the scissors are in the drawer all the way on the other side of the room. So what do you do? If you are like a lot of people, you may try to pull the bag open with your teeth. Just don’t do it. Using your teeth in place of scissors or other tools puts you at risk for cracking or breaking them. (Ouch!)
This goes for opening edible items like seafood and nut shells too. There are plenty of tools made specifically for these purposes — use them!
Halt these bad habits, brush and floss regularly, and your teeth should be healthy and strong. And don’t forget your twice-yearly dental checkups. If you live in the Louisville, KY area, call Natural Smiles at (502) 414-0146 or complete our web form.

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