We all do things that can damage our teeth, both knowingly and unknowingly. Most people know that certain foods and drinks are bad for their teeth. We all know that candy and sugary treats and drinks pose big threats to our teeth. Sugar feeds the bacteria that causes cavities.
But do we understand that there are other foods that are just as bad for our teeth as candy? For example, foods that are high in starch and refined carbohydrates, like pasta, cereals, breads, and white rice can cause plaque build-up that can lead to cavities.
Another danger to teeth is acid. Acidic foods such as citrus fruits and juices as well as all sodas can demineralize teeth making them vulnerable to developing decay.
Coffee and tea can stain teeth and added sugars can be cavity causing.
Ideally we should brush our teeth after eating these kinds of foods, but sometimes that is not possible. At the very least we should make a habit of rinsing out our mouth well by drinking plain water after eating these things.
Here are 5 other habits that can be damaging your teeth without you even knowing it.
Misusing your teeth
Chewing hard candies and ice can crack a tooth. Biting down hard on a fork or spoon, using your teeth to open things like packages or lids, chewing or biting on pens & pencils or even your fingernails can all chip, crack or break a tooth.
Clenching or grinding your teeth (also called bruxism)
Many times people are unaware that they are clenching or grinding their teeth. This often happens when someone is focusing on something or under stress. It is also a common occurrence at night during sleep. Bruxism can create small fractures in the teeth. It will also wear down both the teeth and gums over time. It can cause serious problems if left untreated. Your dentist can evaluate your teeth and look for signs of bruxism. If this seems to be a problem there are steps that can be taken to reduce or stop the damage being done.
Use of tobacco products
Smoking cigarettes and cigars are not only bad for your overall health, they are bad for your teeth and gums as well. Chewing tobacco can be even worse because the tobacco and associated carcinogens come into contact with the gums and soft tissues and stay there for an extended period of time. Tobacco use puts you at a higher risk for periodontal disease because it reduces blood flow to your gums. It also causes decreased saliva flow, higher tooth decay rate, bad breath and can cause oral cancer. If you use tobacco products it is worth speaking to your doctor or dentist about the health concerns associated with it and coming up with a plan to stop using it.
Brushing your teeth too aggressively
It is possible to damage your teeth and gums by brushing too hard. Always use a soft bristle brush. A hard bristle brush can be too harsh on your teeth, and especially on your gums. It is best to brush gently and take a little more time while doing so, than to brush harder and faster for a shorter period of time. Pressing too hard when you brush can wear down your teeth and gums over time.
Sucking on thumbs or fingers
Children who continue to suck their thumbs past age 4 or 5 can cause misalignment of their teeth. This can result in more serious problems over time.