Habits to Break for Healthy Teeth
Using Your Teeth as Tools
You know how it goes...It's a Friday night and you are heading out for a first date. You've been looking forward to this all week. In fact, you even bought a brand new shirt. You're running late, trying to get your hair to cooperate, when the doorbell rings. No time for scissors – tear that tag off with the help of your trusty teeth!
Whether it's a tag, a thread, or a big bag of chips, we have all been guilty of this at one time or another. It's so convenient to use our teeth to rip, tear, hook, or cut something. Why not? They are sharp like scissors, so they can handle it, right? Well, actually, it's one of the worst things you can do to your teeth.
Worst case scenario, you actually chip or break a tooth using them in place of tools. Best case scenario, you damage the enamel of your teeth. But also, using your teeth as tools is a particularly bad habit to form for two additional reasons.
First, it becomes a habit which is hard to break, and second, it causes wear-and-tear to the areas of your teeth that are easier to chip – like the sharp ends where the enamel is already thin.
Picking, Chomping, Biting, and Grinding
Okay, you made it to dinner and you look fabulous, but now you are starting to feel nervous. Stop right there – no more chomping the ice. And be careful where you stick that toothpick. Chewing on hard, miniature blocks of ice is one of the worst things you can do to your teeth. It's almost as bad as chewing rocks – possibly worse.
The cold temperature of ice intensifies the damage done to your teeth. When you chomp down into frozen cubes of water, you are causing teeny, tiny fractures to form in your teeth. These small fissures in the enamel eventually weaken your teeth. Continue gnawing on that ice, and in a few years, you might cause actual cracks and fractures in your teeth. If not, you'll likely suffer painful sensitivity as a result.
If you are someone who grinds your teeth while you sleep at night, bites your nails when nervous, chews ice or hard candy, or likes to have a toothpick in your mouth at all times, find another outlet for your anxiety.
Instead, try replacing hard candy or toothpicks with sugarless gum. Toothpicks are a great way to clean your teeth, if used correctly. However, if chewed long enough, the tiny fibres of wood can harm your gums, and if you are not careful, you can injure your gums poking around in there.
If you have a weakness for smashing up ice, opt for no ice in your glass. You can also try crushed ice rather than hard cubes – it's slightly softer and not as harmful.
If you grind, look into getting a mouth guard for when you sleep at night. The pressure you are applying with your jaw onto the smaller areas of your teeth when you grind has the potential to cause major, long-term damage that you will deal with down the road. It's not that your teeth aren't strong – they are – just make sure to keep them that way.
See our dental hygienists in Edmonton for more dental hygiene tips.
Sucking on Something Sour
This restaurant is pretty fancy. Either you or your date wanted to impress the other person. The server even added lemon to your water. And look, your soda has a lime wedge. Enjoy the drink – just don't suck on the rind. Chewing into lemons, limes, and all things sour eventually eats away at the enamel of your teeth. Oh...and soda does, too.
Anything you eat that has high pH levels – that means it's bitter – has acid in it, which is bad news for your tooth enamel. Things like wine, soda, coffee, tea, and fruit all have high levels of acidity, which weaken the enamel of your teeth. It is okay to eat and drink them. Just be sure to brush and rinse the acid off.
Mind Your Gums
It was a magical night, and you are ready to brush your teeth and jump into bed. Just one more bit of advice. Okay, maybe two bits. Watch how hard you are using that toothbrush. Gentle strokes with a soft-bristle brush is all it takes, and don't forget to floss. Now you can sleep well knowing that you have a great story to share tomorrow while you shine your healthy smile.
Contact your Edmonton dentist for more tips on how to properly care for your teeth.