You might not be surprised to learn that millions of Americans suffer from tooth decay and gum disease. But what might surprise you is that these and other oral health problems are largely preventable, simply by paying attention to your habits.
While some habits, like brushing and flossing, can help maintain your healthy smile, other habits can damage teeth and gums. Knowing what those habits are can help you avoid them and the problems they can cause.
With locations in Lompoc, Santa Maria, and San Luis Obispo, and two locations in Bakersfield, California (Niles and White Lane/S.H.), leading family dentistry practice CaliDental helps patients play proactive roles in their oral health, with lifestyle guidance aimed at preventing tooth and gum problems. In this post, our team discusses eight habits that could actually be bad for your oral health.
Regular brushing is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, but if you brush too hard, you could be causing problems. Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled brush irritates gums and increases wear and tear on tooth enamel.
If you irritate your gums repeatedly, you could cause them to recede, increasing your risk of gum disease. Follow these brushing technique tips from the American Dental Association and choose a soft-bristled brush over one with hard bristles. Your teeth will thank you.
Many people think brushing right after a meal is a great way to reduce the risk of tooth decay, but this habit could increase your risk of tooth damage. That’s because eating and drinking temporarily soften your tooth enamel, and if you brush when your enamel is soft, you’re more likely to damage this vital layer of protection. Rinse your mouth instead, or delay brushing for at least 20-30 minutes after eating or drinking to prevent enamel damage.
You know the drill: You reach the end of a cool drink, and it’s so tempting to chew on the ice that’s left behind. But don’t: Chewing on hard substances like ice can damage your tooth surfaces and irritate your gums. Sharp ice shards could even cause tiny cuts or tooth cracks and fractures.
If you have a habit of “grazing” on snacks all day — even healthy snacks — that means you’re continually bathing your teeth in the acids your body creates to help digest those foods. Over time, those acids can wear away your tooth enamel, making you more prone to cavities.
You’re not the only one who loves sugars; the bacteria that cause tooth decay love sugary foods, too. In fact, they thrive on them. When you consume sugary foods and drinks, bacteria multiply faster, increasing your risk of cavities. Sticky foods are problematic because they can leave residue and particles behind that get stuck between your teeth, where they can jump-start the decaying process.
Since they don’t have sugar in them, it’s tempting to think diet drinks are OK for your teeth. But many of these drinks — including diet sodas and energy drinks — are high in acids that can erode your tooth enamel. Stick with water — a calorie-free drink — instead.
Tobacco products make your breath stink, and they can turn your teeth yellow or brown. But those aren’t the only problems they can cause. According to the CDC, if you use tobacco products, your risks of gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer are a lot higher, too. People who smoke also tend to have more untreated cavities than people who don’t use tobacco products.
If you don’t have a toothache, why bother visiting the dentist? To prevent toothaches (and other problems) from happening in the future.
Twice-yearly checkups and cleanings provide us with an opportunity to look for very early signs of cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, and other oral health problems so they can be treated early, when treatment is simplest and less costly. Many oral health problems only cause symptoms in more advanced stages, so regular checkups are the best way to catch — and treat — these issues early.
Maintaining good oral health is important for your smile, and it has an influence on other areas of your health. In fact, research suggests that the inflammation associated with many oral health problems could play a role in other serious disease processes.
To learn how to play a more proactive role in your own oral health — and how we can help — book an appointment online or over the phone with the team at CaliDental today.