6 Daily Habits That Harm Your Smile
Bi-annual dental visits are enough to maintain the health and beauty of almost any smile, but your visits can become more frequent — and more expensive — due to the damage caused by a few seemingly harmless daily habits.
1. Cough Drops
Like many brands of gum, cough drops often contain quite a bit of sugar. Keeping them in your mouth for a long period of time will have the same effect as sugary gum: increased bacteria growth, which leads to acid erosion. Sugar-free cough drops and warm tea are better options to help soothe a sore throat and calm your cough.
2. Using Your Teeth as Tools
Consistently biting your nails or opening packages with your teeth can cause tiny fractures, chips, and jaw pain. Use your teeth for chewing food only. If damage has already been done, dental bonding or porcelain veneers can restore your smile.
3. Chewing Ice
Chewing on ice or non-edible hard objects like pens can wear down your enamel and even cause chips. Suck on ice instead, or chew sugar-free gum as an alternative.
4. Grinding Your Teeth
Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw consistently is known as bruxism. Some people do this without thinking during the day, but it more commonly occurs involuntarily at night. You may not even know you grind your teeth until your dentist points out that your enamel is worn down or until you have jaw pain. A splint or mouth guard can help prevent further damage by keeping the upper and lower teeth separated. If bruxism is related to improper alignment, braces or Invisalign® will help. Serious cases of damage caused by bruxism may require tooth reshaping, crowns, or oral surgery followed by preventative treatment to maintain your smile.
5. Brushing Too Hard or Too Soon
Brushing your teeth is essential to maintaining a healthy smile, but brushing incorrectly can do some damage. If you brush too hard, you may wear down your enamel, increase tooth sensitivity, and irritate your gums. If you brush too soon after eating a meal or drinking an acidic beverage, you can remove some of the enamel that the acid has temporarily softened. Rinse your mouth after a meal to freshen up, or wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. Choose a soft-bristle toothbrush or an electronic toothbrush, or simply use less pressure while you are cleaning your teeth to avoid damage from brushing too hard.
6. Drinking Sugary or Acidic Beverages
Soda, fruit juice, and alcohol shouldn’t cause long-term damage to your smile unless you drink them every day. The acid and sugar in soda and fruit juice feed bacteria and erode your teeth. Alcohol is also very acidic and can reduce saliva production, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
The best way to overcome any of these habits is to replace them with good habits. Drink water, choose sugar-free gum, eat less sugar, brush gently, and regularly visit your dentist to make your beautiful, healthy smile last a lifetime.
To schedule your dental visit with Dr. Benjamin S. Fiss, please call (312) 951-5230 or fill out our online contact form.