Your Bad Habits May Be Ruining Your Teeth
We all have habits we wish we could kick. But not all of them have a negative effect on your health or appearance. Unfortunately, many people’s bad habits are wreaking havoc on their smile – causing tooth decay, unsightly wear and chips that can require costly dental work to address.
The good news is that you can have healthy teeth by kicking these habits to the curb. Doing so will save you time and money you’d otherwise spend fixing these preventable dental issues. Below are the most common issues we see in our office, and the bad habits that cause them.
Worn or uneven enamel
Over time, wear and tear on your teeth can cause the enamel to deteriorate. Teeth can become shorter, or have divots and grooves that make them uneven. This is caused by a number of bad habits. From using your teeth as a tool, to consuming food and drink that are high in acid.
Using your teeth for a job they were not intended to do – such as opening a package or chewing ice – can functionally wear away the enamel. And a diet that is high in acid can make enamel weak and create soft or thin areas. Clenching or grinding your teeth – which is typically related to stress – is another surefire way to prematurely wear away your enamel.
If you notice soft spots, lesions, or ridges in the enamel of your teeth, ask yourself which of these bad habits you might have. While some wear is normal over time, heavy wear can be a sign of a larger issue. Stopping these habits now will ensure that you have healthy teeth for years to come.
Tooth decay is one issue that many patients believe cannot be prevented. There is a myth that all people get cavities, and decay is a normal part of your dental health. And while it is true that some people are more prone to tooth decay, there are habits that can make the issue worse.
Typically, these habits go hand in hand. The first being consuming a diet that is high in sugar and acid, such as soda, fruit drinks and energy drinks. And the second being poor dental hygiene habits. That’s because liquid sugars make their way into every nook and cranny in your mouth. Without proper brushing and flossing the sugar will start to produce the acid (metabolites from bacteria) that creates cavities and destroys healthy teeth.
The good news is that by replacing soda with water and maintaining proper hygiene, you can prevent tooth decay that causes new cavities to form.
While the first two issues are caused over time, a chipped tooth can happen in an instant. This is typically caused by chewing on something hard like a bone or ice, or using your teeth as a tool to do something like remove a tag from clothing.
Chewing ice can be extremely damaging to your teeth and can chip away at your enamel and wear down your back teeth. In fact, this is the number-one cause of chipped back teeth. Chipped front teeth are typically a result of using your teeth to open a package or chew on a bone while enjoying a nice cut of meat.
Using your teeth as a tool is never a good idea, and it’s a habit that you should stop immediately. There are tools designed to do the things you’re looking for your teeth to accomplish, and using them could save you a trip to the dentist.
Over time, your teeth will naturally become darker. However, if you are a habitual coffee, wine or soda drinker, this discoloration can happen much faster. Acidic food and drink can also make your teeth more susceptible to staining
While it’s perfectly normal to enjoy your coffee or a nice glass of wine, there are ways to prevent this natural degradation of color. The best way to prevent discoloration is to have your teeth cleaned every four to six months before stains get deeper into the enamel.
It’s also a good idea to whiten your teeth every three to four months. There are several strategies for whitening teeth. The key is to follow the whitening protocol for 10-14 days and to avoid dark-colored food and drink during this time.
Have bad habits left your teeth looking worn, chipped or discolored? The team at Larry Saylor Dentistry is here to help. Call our office today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Saylor at his Brandon, FL dental office.