You brush your teeth twice a day, floss when you can remember, and show up for your 6 month cleanings. But did you know that some of your everyday habits can negatively effect your dental health? Here are 6 of the most common mistakes we see among our patients, and how you can stop them.
1. Too much Soda throughout the day.
The acids and sugar in these beverages soften and break down tooth enamel, making you more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay. Limit yourself to one soda per day, and try to drink it all in one sitting, rather than sipping on it for a long period of time. Rinse your mouth with water after drinking soda, and follow it up with brushing 30 minutes later. Drinking three or more sodas a day can greater increase your risk for cavities and tooth decay.
2. Chewing on ice.
While you enjoy the hot Summer day with an ice cold beverage, it can be so tempting to crunch, crunch, crunch on the floating ice cubes in your cup. Nothing wrong with that right? Wrong. Chewing on ice cubes can actually cause cracks in the enamel, and the cold temperatures can even fracture your teeth. Another thing to watch out for are the little jagged pieces of ice that can break off and puncture or pick at your gums.
3. Grinding your teeth.
Some people have this problem during the day, and some have it at night. Both are bad for your teeth! Grinding puts a whole lot of force on your teeth, and can lead to chipping, tooth sensitivity, and the wear down of tooth enamel. One of the best ways to overcome this problem is simply being aware of it. Force your jaw to relax to help keep your teeth from rubbing up against each other, and stop clenching/grinding every time you catch yourself doing it. If you suffer from night time grinding, plastic mouth guards can help you stop grinding completely. Talk to your dentist about different options, and custom-fit mouth guards for your teeth.
4. Using a hard-bristled toothbrush.
One common misconception is that a firmer toothbrush means a better toothbrush. In reality, toothbrushes with very firm bristles are abrasive to your teeth and gums. As you get older, your gums begin to slowly recede from your teeth. The hard bristles of your toothbrush can irritate your sensitive gums, and expose the root of the tooth. Another problem with the hard bristles is that they cannot move between the teeth to remove food particles. Our dentists all recommend brushing with a soft-medium bristled brush twice day followed by flossing.
5. Opening things with your teeth.
Common things people admit to opening with their pearly whites? Bottles, bobby pins, nail polish caps, and price tags on clothes. Using your teeth to open or tear off anything besides food is a guaranteed recipe for cracked and chipped teeth! Keep bottle openers and scissors handy so you’ll never have to resort to using your teeth as a tool.
6. Falling asleep before you brush your teeth.
Those bedtime snack cravings get to all of us at one point or another. The bowl of chips while you catch up on last night’s episode, or a nice hot cup of black tea while you read a book, these common night time munchies can lead to bad dental health over time. The problem with eating before bed and not brushing is that your teeth are bathing in all of the sugar and acid from your last meal as you sleep. Both of these things attack your tooth enamel and can cause cavities and decay. If you decide to indulge in a late night snack, make sure to always remember to brush after!