When it comes to dental hygiene, the focus is often on what you can do take good care of your mouth. Seeing a dentist regularly, brushing twice a day and flossing are all part of a good oral care routine, as is seeing a periodontist for gum disease screenings and to treat any signs of periodontal disease.
But, along with focusing what you should be doing to keep your mouth in great shape, it also helps to focus on the habits that are better left alone or avoided entirely. Some seemingly innocent habits can make your teeth more likely to break, increase your risk for gum disease or cavities, or otherwise influence the health and appearance of your mouth, teeth and gums. If you have any of the following habits, learning to avoid them will help your mouth considerably.
Chewing on Ice
Crunching on the pieces of ice that remain at the bottom of a glass of water can seem like a great way stay hydrated or cool when a glass is nearly empty. But, an ice cube can be hard enough to chip your tooth or cause it to break. A chipped tooth can be more sensitive to heat and cold, as the nerves inside it are likely to be exposed. Depending on how severed the break is, your habit of chewing on ice can mean that you end up needing a full replacement of a damaged tooth.
Sucking on Cough Drops
While a throat lozenge or cough drop can feel soothing when you’re sick, they’re actually pretty terrible for your teeth. Most are contain a lot of sugar, which is the leading factor in tooth decay. Not only are lozenges sugary, since you’re holding them in your mouth for a long period of time, the damage they do can be severe.
Putting Non-Edible Items In Your Mouth
You might put the end of a pen or pencil in your mouth when you’re deep in thought or use your teeth as helpfuls when your hands are full. But, putting items that aren’t meant to be chewed and swallowed into your mouth is a bad habit for several reasons. First, the pressure you put on an object such as a pencil or pen can be enough to crack or otherwise damage your tooth. Second, foreign objects can be coated in bacteria, which can make you sick or play a part in the development of gum disease. If you have a filling or bonding on a tooth, you risk breaking the filling or bond when you bite down on objects.
Sucking Your Thumb or Biting Your Nails
Thumb sucking is a habit you want your child to outgrow, and quickly, for a number of reasons. Continuing to suck the thumb when the permanent teeth start to grow in can lead to a misalignment of the bite and jaw. Over time, that can cause trouble with speaking or chewing.
Nail biting is a habit that people old and young should learn to avoid. The pressure involved in tearing your nails can damage the teeth, for one thing. Plus, when you constantly put your fingers in your mouth, you’re putting whatever dirt and bacteria is on those fingers in your mouth, too.
Red wine can be bad news for your teeth for two reasons. First, the pigments found in red wine tend to stain the teeth’s enamel. Second, any type of wine, both red and white, tends to be fairly acidic. Regularly drinking a few glasses of wine can contribute to enamel erosion on your teeth, making cavities more likely, as well as causing discomfort. You don’t have to become a teetotaler or give up your glass of wine completely. When you do imbibe, make sure to rinse your mouth out with some water every few sips.
Drinking Soda or Sugary Juices
Like wine, soda is a pretty acidic substance. Sweetened, non-diet versions are also high in a sugar, a leading cause of tooth decay. Even diet or unsweetened carbonated sodas can be bad for your teeth, as the high acid content plays a part in enamel erosion.
Eating Gummi Bears
Pretty much any type of candy is bad for the health of your teeth and gums, especially if you aren’t in the habit of brushing and flossing. But, sticky, gummy candy, such as Gummi bears and their relatives, can be particularly bad for the teeth. The stickiness of the candy means it’s more likely to cling to your teeth for longer, creating an ideal environment for the bacteria that thrive on sugar.
Snacking a Lot
When dentists came up with the recommendation to brush twice a day and floss daily, they weren’t expecting that people would be snacking all throughout the day. Snacking often means that you’re giving food bits a chance to collect on your teeth, increasing your risk for cavities. The risk is particularly high if you snack on sweets or starchy foods such as potato chips. You don’t have to give up the occasional snack, though. Just try to choose foods that are good for the health of your teeth, such as crunchy vegetables or fruits.
Smoking or Using Tobacco Products
Tobacco is bad news for your entire body, including your teeth and gums. Smoking or using other tobacco products increases your risk for gum disease. It also stains your teeth, makes your breath smell unpleasant, and can increase the risk that any dental implants you have will fail. Quitting smoking can be challenging, the benefits you’ll see, not only in your mouth, but all over, will be well worth it.
Along with developing healthy habits and leaving the damaging habits in the dust, seeing a dentist or periodontists, such as Dr. John Paul Gallardo, on a regular basis can help you keep your teeth, gums and the rest of your mouth in great shape. To schedule a consultation at the periodontists’ Miami practice, call (305) 447-1447 today.