Keeping teeth healthy should be a top priority for everyone. After all, we only get one set of choppers over the course of our lives.
And yet, many of us are damaging our teeth in ways that we might not even suspect.
Following are some of the key ways that you harm your teeth every day.
1. Failing to drink enough water
Saliva may have a high “ick” factor, but it is essential to protecting your teeth because it helps remove debris that otherwise accumulates.
To maintain the proper amount of saliva, you should be properly hydrated. That means drinking enough water.
On the website of The Gorman Center for Fine Dentistry in North Oaks, Minnesota, Dr. Steve Gorman writes:
“Especially in our hot summer months, it is important to be well hydrated to maintain proper body chemistry balance. Proper balance affects our mouths and dehydration can lead to bad breath, gum tissue problems, and decay.”
Drinking more water also helps wash debris from your teeth.
2. Not flossing properly
Flossing improperly probably beats not flossing at all. But going about flossing the wrong way prevents you from getting the maximum benefits.
According to Dr. Rodney L. Allen — a Parker, Colorado-based dentist — common flossing mistakes include:
- Flossing after brushing, which is not as effective at reducing plaque between teeth as flossing first
- Failing to clean the entire tooth, which is best accomplished by turning the floss into a “C” shape and sliding it up and down over the entire tooth length on all sides
- Not pushing below the gumline by 2 or 3 millimeters, which helps remove additional bacteria
3. Drinking coffee and juices
Drinking too much coffee, juice or wine can be bad for your teeth because these liquids are acidic.
Take that morning cup of joe. Research shows that coffee boosts the risk of cavities because its acidic nature erodes enamel, which also can result in increased tooth sensitivity. The situation can be even worse if you add cream and sugar to your coffee.
According to Valley Dentists of Belchertown, Massachusetts:
“When its acidity is combined with enamel loss, it will make more of your yellowish dentin visible. As a result, your teeth can lose their white appearance, which can negatively impact your self-esteem.”
4. Using the wrong brushing technique
Unfortunately, improper brushing techniques also are all too common.
San Pablo Smiles Family Dentistry in San Pablo, California, offers some suggestions for brushing the right way, including:
- Choosing a soft-bristled brush, which is easier on the teeth and gums
- Holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth, which helps you clean the gum line
- Using short, circular strokes with the goal of “massaging and not scrubbing your teeth”
- Spending at least two minutes doing a thorough job
5. Chewing on ice
Chewing ice seems like it would be a harmless — if somewhat irritating — habit. But in truth, chomping down on the cold stuff “ruins your teeth,” according to Silverado Family Dental in Las Vegas:
“When you chew ice, you create a cycle where your teeth quickly cool down and heat up over and over. This makes your enamel expand and contract, which nearly always leads to micro fractures forming in the surface of your teeth.
Over time, micro fractures turn into extensive breaks. The result can be sensitivity, pain and infections. The tooth enamel also can wear down.
6. Biting your nails
Not only is biting your nails unhygienic, it also can wreak havoc on your oral health.
“Biting nails creates a friction between the tooth and the nail that can cause your teeth to erode over time, which can lead to other serious problems down the road like gingivitis. Nail biting can also cause the teeth to move, leading to gaps and a misalignment of the upper and lower teeth.”
7. Eating hard or chewy candies
Eating hard candies or chewy candies such as gummy bears invites trouble to your teeth, according to Smile Design Manhattan in New York.
Hard candy remains in your mouth for a long period, and so does the sugar it contains. It’s also possible to break or chip a tooth on this type of candy.
According to the Smile Design Manhattan website:
“Soft, gummy candy is an equal enemy. Gummy bears and the like are packed full of sugar that sticks to your teeth. If you do indulge, be sure to brush your teeth and floss immediately afterward.”
8. Grinding your teeth
This is one bad habit you might not even notice, but your teeth sure do.
Dr. Sonny Kim, a dentist with Advanced Family Dentistry in Weston, Virginia, writes that people who clench or grind their teeth can experience a host of issues, including:
- Jaw aches
- Sore facial muscles
According to Kim:
“As the tooth’s surface enamel is worn away, dentin is exposed, and your teeth can become sensitive to hot and cold. Ongoing teeth grinding can lead to excessive wear, cracks or fractures in teeth; misalignment of teeth, severe jaw pain, TMJ disease, an abnormal bite, and potential tooth loss.”