19 Habits That Wreck Your Teeth

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Find Out How to Stop Damaging Your Smile

The decisions you make can seriously impact your oral health and damage your teeth. Some of the items on our list are pretty obvious – most of us have learned that chewing ice can chip or crack our teeth – but others are rather surprising. 

Chewing on Ice

It’s natural and sugar free, so you might think ice is harmless. But munching on hard, frozen cubes can chip or even crack your teeth. And if your mindless chomping irritates the soft tissue inside a tooth, regular toothaches may follow. Hot foods and cold foods may trigger quick, sharp jabs of pain or a lingering toothache. Next time you get the urge for ice, chew some sugarless gum instead.

Playing Sports With No Mouth Guard

Whether you play football, hockey, or any other contact sport, don't get in the game without a mouth guard. This is a piece of molded plastic that protects the upper row of teeth. Without it, your teeth could get chipped or even knocked out when the action gets rough. Self-fitting mouth guards may be purchased at a store, or you can have one custom made by your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs.

Bedtime Bottles

It’s never too early to protect teeth. Giving a baby a bedtime bottle of juice, milk, or formula, can put new teeth on a path to decay. The baby may become used to falling asleep with the bottle in his or her mouth, bathing the teeth in sugars overnight. It's best to keep bottles out of the crib.

Tongue Piercings

Tongue piercings may be trendy, but biting down on the metal stud can crack a tooth. Lip piercings pose a similar risk. And when metal rubs against the gums, it can cause gum damage that may lead to tooth loss. The mouth is also a haven for bacteria, so piercings raise the risk of infections and sores. Bottom line, discuss the health risks with your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs first.

Grinding Teeth

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can wear teeth down over time. It is most often caused by stress and sleeping habits. This makes it hard to control. Avoiding hard foods during the day can reduce pain and damage from this habit. Wearing a mouth guard at night can prevent the damage caused by grinding while sleeping.

Cough Drops

Just because cough drops are sold in the medicine aisle doesn't mean they’re healthy. Most are loaded with sugar. So after soothing your throat with a lozenge, be sure to brush well. Whether the sugar comes from a cough drop or a hard candy, it reacts with the sticky plaque that coats your teeth. Then bacteria in the plaque convert the sugar into an acid that eats away at tooth enamel. Hello, cavities.

Gummy Candy

All sugary treats promote tooth decay, but some candies are harder to bear. Gummies stick in the teeth, keeping the sugar and resulting acids in contact with your enamel for hours. If your day just isn't the same without a gummy critter, pop a couple during a meal instead of as a separate snack. More saliva is produced during meals, which helps rinse away candy bits and acids.

Soda

Candy isn't the only culprit when it comes to added sugar. Sodas can have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving. To add insult to injury, sodas also contain phosphoric and citric acids, which eat away at tooth enamel. Diet soft drinks let you skip the sugar, but they may have even more acid in the form of the artificial sweeteners.

Opening Stuff with Your Teeth

Opening bottle caps or plastic packaging with your teeth may be convenient, but this is one habit that makes dentists cringe. Using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip. Instead, keep scissors and bottle openers handy. Bottom line, your teeth should only be used for eating.

Sports Drinks

There's no doubt a cold sports drink is refreshing after a good workout. But these drinks are usually high in sugar. Like soda or candy, sugary sports drinks create an acid attack on the enamel of your teeth. Drinking them frequently can lead to decay. A better way to stay hydrated at the gym is to chug sugar-free, calorie-free water.

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, but unfortunately most juices are also loaded with sugar. Some juices can have as much sugar per serving as soda. For example, there are only 10 more grams of sugar in orange soda than in orange juice. Fruits are naturally sweet, so look for juice that has no added sugar. You can also reduce the sugar content by diluting juice with some water.

Potato Chips

The bacteria in plaque will also break down starchy foods into acid. This acid can attack the teeth for the next 20 minutes -- even longer if the food is stuck between the teeth or you snack often. You might want to floss after eating potato chips or other starchy foods that tend to get stuck in the teeth.

Constant Snacking

Snacking produces less saliva than a meal, leaving food bits in your teeth for hours longer. Avoid snacking too frequently, and stick to snacks that are low in sugar and starch -- for example, carrot sticks.

Chewing on Pencils

Do you ever chew on your pencil when concentrating on work or studies? Like crunching on ice, this habit can cause teeth to chip or crack. Sugarless gum is a better option when you feel the need to chew. It will trigger the flow of saliva, which can make teeth stronger and protect against enamel-eating acids.

Drinking Coffee

Coffee's dark color and acidity can cause yellowing of the teeth over time. Fortunately, it's one of the easiest stains to treat with various whitening methods. Talk to your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs if you're concerned about discoloration of your teeth.

Smoking

Cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products, can stain teeth and cause them to fall out as a result of gum disease. Tobacco can also cause cancer of the mouth, lips, and tongue. If you were looking for one more reason to quit, think of your smile.

Drinking Red Wine

The acids in wine eat away at tooth enamel, creating rough spots that make teeth more vulnerable to staining. Red wine also contains a deep pigment called chromogen and tannins, which help the color stick to the teeth. This combination makes it easy for the wine's red color to stay with you long after your glass is empty.

Drinking White Wine

You might think sticking to white wine would spare your teeth. But the acids still weaken the enamel, leaving the teeth porous and vulnerable to staining from other beverages, such as coffee. Swishing with water after drinking or using toothpaste with a mild whitening agent can fight the staining effects of red and white wines.

Binge Eating

Binge eating often involves excessive amounts of sweets, which can lead to tooth decay. Binging and purging (bulimia nervosa) can do even more damage to dental health. The strong acids found in vomit can erode teeth, making them brittle and weak. These acids also cause bad breath. Bulimia can lead to a variety of serious health problems, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you have been purging.

 

 SOURCE: WebMD

 

 

Is Sugar the Only Food That Causes Cavities?

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No, All Carbohydrates Can Impact Oral Health

Many people assume that only sugar causes cavities. Reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet, and you are safe from cavities. That’s actually not correct. You see, cavities occur as a result of tooth decay, and tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as breads, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy are left on the teeth. So exactly how does that deliciously wonderful slice of bread that you had this morning turn into a tooth-killer cavity? It’s really a quite simple (and deadly) process that involves five steps:

  1. You eat something containing carbohydrates (remember, both sugar and starches fall into this category).

  2. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids.

  3. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth.

  4. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth.

  5. Once the enamel is dissolved, holes form in the teeth and are called cavities, or caries.

However, the real issue is not the amount of sugar or starch in a particular food, but how long it tends to remain on your teeth. For example, some of the most damaging foods are those that mash into the tops of the molars at the back of the mouth and don't dissolve quickly -- like gummy candy or starchy chips and crackers. Lollipops, juice, and soda are also major offenders since they douse teeth in sugar for minutes at a time.

To reduce the impact of carbohydrates on your teeth and to head off the five-step process that leads to cavities, try these simple approaches:

  • Water, water and more water. Drink water with every meal and be sure to actively swish it around your mouth at the end of the meal. This will wash away the acids that formed and help remove debris.
  • Chew a piece of sugar-free gum at the end of your meal – it helps produce saliva, which aids in naturally cleaning your teeth, and it also will often remove food debris from the meal.
  • Avoid really sticky foods that stay on your teeth for hours.
  • Brush twice a day and floss daily.
  • Make sure to drink water with fluoride to strengthen your teeth – this is especially important for kids.
  • Give your kids calcium-rich cheese. It is a great cavity-fighting snack, since it can actually stimulate the flow of saliva (a natural tooth cleaner) and neutralize the mouth acids that wear away enamel.

Soda or Pop? By Any Name, It's Trouble for Your Teeth

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Carbonated Soft Drinks Erode Tooth Enamel and Lead to Tooth Decay

It's called "pop" in the Midwest and most of Canada. It's "soda" in the Northeast. It goes by a well-known brand name in much of the South. And in Pennsylvania, “pop” and “soda” are used depending on if you live in the eastern or western part of the state. But however people say it, they're talking about something that can cause serious oral health problems – carbonated soft drinks.

Soft drinks have emerged as one of the most significant dietary sources of tooth decay, affecting people of all ages. Acids and acidic sugar byproducts in soft drinks soften tooth enamel, contributing to the formation of cavities. In extreme cases, softer enamel combined with improper brushing, grinding of the teeth or other conditions can lead to tooth loss.

Sugar-free drinks, which account for only 14 percent of all soft drink consumption, are less harmful. However, they are acidic and potentially can still cause problems.

We're Drinking More and More

Soft drink consumption in the United States has increased dramatically across all demographic groups, especially among children and teenagers. The problem is so severe that health authorities such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have begun sounding the alarm about the dangers.

 How many school age children drink soft drinks? Estimates range from one in two to more than four in five consuming at least one soft drink a day. At least one in five kids consumes a minimum of four servings a day. Larger serving sizes make the problem worse. From 6.5 ounces in the 1950s, the typical soft drink has grown to up to 20 ounces today.

 Children and adolescents aren't the only people at risk. Long-term consumption of soft drinks has a cumulative effect on tooth enamel. As people live longer, more will be likely to experience problems.

What to Do

Children, adolescents and adults can all benefit from reducing the number of soft drinks they consume, as well as from available oral care therapies. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Substitute different drinks: Stock the refrigerator with beverages containing less sugar and acid such as water, milk and fruit juice. Drink them yourself and encourage your kids to do the same.
  • Rinse with water: After consuming a soft drink, flush your mouth with water to remove vestiges of the drink that can prolong exposure of tooth enamel to acids.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse: Fluoride reduces cavities and strengthens tooth enamel, so brush with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash also can help. The dentists at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs can recommend an over-the-counter mouthwash or prescribe a stronger one depending on the severity of the condition. They also can recommend a higher fluoride toothpaste.
  • Get professionally applied fluoride treatment: Your dental hygienist can apply fluoride in the form of a foam, gel or rinse. 

Soft drinks are hard on your teeth. By reducing the amount you drink, practicing good oral hygiene, and seeking help from your dentist and hygienist, you can counteract their effect and enjoy better oral health.                         

SOURCE: Colgate