Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we do things to unintentionally harm our teeth. Even the most avid teeth brushers who floss regularly and never miss a dental check-up sometimes engage in habits that wreak havoc on their teeth. Could you be among the millions of Americans who are unknowingly putting their dental health at risk? Learn the worst habits for your teeth below:
- Ice chewing. Most people think that ice is a pretty harmless little snack. After all, it’s natural and calorie free. Unfortunately, chewing on ice isn’t so risk-free when it comes to your oral health. In fact, gnawing on ice cubes can chip or even fracture your teeth. If you’re finding it difficult to curb your ice chewing habit, try using a substitute like sugarless gum when you get the urge to chew.
- Not protecting your teeth. Sometimes, the things you are not doing are just as risky to your oral health as the things you are doing. Case in point: if you engage in any contact sports—think football or hockey—and forego the use of a mouth guard, you’re inviting an injury to the teeth or gums. Mouth guards—which are molded to fit around the upper teeth—can be purchased over-the-counter. You can also request a custom-made mouth guard from your dentist.
- Sipping on juice. Many juices are good for the body in moderation; after all, they’re loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. The bad news, however, is that most juices are also loaded with sugar. Shockingly, some juices have as much sugar per serving as soda. So, while you might think you’re making a healthy choice by choosing orange juice over soda, you might actually be setting yourself up for tooth decay. This doesn’t mean that you should steer clear of juices entirely, but you should avoid sipping on them throughout the day. To stay hydrated, keep a water bottle handy. And after you drink that morning cup of orange juice, be sure to brush your teeth.
- Using cough drops. Few people would consider cough drops to be hazardous to their oral health. After all, they’re sold alongside medicine in the drug store; how harmful can they be? While cough drops and other throat lozenges are used to treat sore throats and other cold symptoms, many are loaded with sugar. So, popping cough drops throughout the day gives the bacteria in plaque plenty to work with; the sugar is converted into enamel-destroying acid. The bottom line: if you feel the need to use cough drops, make sure to brush afterwards.
- Drinking sports drinks. Many athletes turn to sports drinks for hydration following a rigorous workout. Unfortunately, many sports drinks are overloaded with sugar. Thus, regularly chugging sports drinks—and then neglecting to brush your teeth after consumption—sets the stage for acid to eat away at your enamel. Your best post-workout drink choice, of course, is simply water.
- Excessive snacking. Snacking habitually throughout the day can also wreak havoc on your teeth for a couple of reasons. First, very few people brush their teeth following a snack. Secondly, less saliva is produced while snacking when compared to saliva produced during a full meal. That means that many more food particles are left behind in your mouth following a snack, which can ultimately lead to tooth decay. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid snacking altogether, though. Instead, opt for snacks that are low in sugar, like carrot sticks, celery, or almonds.
For more information about habits that inadvertently compromise your oral health, contact us today. We look forward to helping you achieve your healthiest smile!