8 Habits that Sabotage Oral Health
Thanks to the Internet’s ability to share information across the globe in only seconds, you’re probably aware of some habits that cause problems with teeth. Maybe things like smoking cigarettes, sucking on thumbs or pacifiers and eating candy come to mind. Here are eight other habits that can also cause problems that can affect your oral health:
- Chewing Ice Cubes
Chewing on ice cubes can damage the enamel on the teeth and lead to hypersensitivity. This habit can also cause cracks and chips and damage fillings, crowns or other dental work. Not to mention, the damage it causes your jaw could lead to complications associated with TMJ disorders.
- Sucking on Lemons
Lemons and other citruses are highly acidic which causes the enamel on the teeth to wear away over time. The enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth and protects it from decay and sensitivity.
- Sports Without a Mouth Guard
Thanks to research and education on this topic, many contact sports now require mouth guards in order to participate. But even athletes in sports not traditionally considered high contact should wear one. The American Dental Association actually recommends custom mouth guards made by a dentist for over 15 sporting events. Dr. Kevin Pollock, DDS, MS, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon serving the Dallas metroplex agrees with this recommendation.
“Sports-related dental injuries can have long-term, damaging effects,” Pollock said. ” It’s estimated that around 3 million teeth are knocked out each year. The best way to prevent these injuries is with a custom fit mouth guard. The boil and bite and one size fits all varieties sold at the store don’t take into consideration the unique shape and size of each individual’s mouth. One study found that the protection offered by custom fit mouth guards actually decreased the amount of concussions and head injuries in high school football players compared to the store bought options.”
- Medications Causing Dry Mouth
Most people don’t realize how important saliva is in protecting the teeth and mouth. At last count, there were over 400 medications that can lead to dry mouth as a side effect and the number is constantly growing. Many of the medications are absolutely necessary for the patient’s health and wellbeing, but it’s important to talk to your doctor about alternative medications if any are available that don’t cause dry mouth.
- Heavy-handed Brushing
It may seem like the more vigorous you brush, the cleaner and healthier your teeth will be. However, brushing too forcefully can cause damage to the gums and wear away at the protective layer of the teeth called enamel. Switch to a soft bristled brush if you feel like you may be guilty of this. Some electric toothbrushes even have sensors that let you know if you are being too forceful.
- Coffee and Tea Obsessions
You probably already know that coffee and tea aren’t good for your teeth. Maybe soda is your weakness, instead. If you can’t kick the sugary drink habit, at least drink it all in one sitting rather than sipping throughout the day. This gives your mouth a change to balance the ph levels once you finish your drink. Rinsing your mouth out with water afterward can help neutralize it as well.
- Fad Diets
A great step to getting healthier is to change your diet. But fad diets often involve shakes or juicing instead of balanced meals. The acidity that comes with these meal replacements can damage the enamel of the teeth, cause staining and increase tooth sensitivity.
- E-Cigarette Use
Although it’s pretty common knowledge that tobacco use does serious damage to the entire body, including the mouth and teeth, many are switching to electronic cigarettes as an alternative. E-cigarettes still contain harmful chemicals and when vaping with nicotine, saliva production is reduced drastically, as is blood flow to the mouth. This means it creates an environment for bacteria to thrive and with fewer white blood cells in the mouth, it can be difficult to fight off potential infection.
It can be hard to break habits, even when made aware of the complications that can come as a result of them. The best way to protect your mouth is with a consistent and effective daily oral hygiene routine and with regular visits to your dentist for professional cleanings and exams. They can also help provide resources and guide you through the process of swapping these damaging habits out with healthier options.