5 Things That May Wreck Your Oral Health
Taking good care of your teeth and gums is important for your overall health. Good oral hygiene can lead to a healthy smile and a greater sense of confidence. However, no matter how carefully you may brush, floss, and swish with mouthwash each day, you may still be harming your teeth and gums. Beware if you make a habit of the following actions that may damage your dental health.
Smoking and Using Other Tobacco Products
If you’re a smoker, you may be wreaking havoc on your health in many ways. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that smoking is a major cause of gum disease in the U.S. In fact, non-smokers are half as likely to get gum disease as smokers are. You up your risk for gum disease by smoking frequently and for long periods of time.
The bad news doesn’t end there. According to the American Dental Association, both cigarettes and chewing tobacco can cause a wide variety of problems that range from bad breath to oral cancer. Tobacco products can also leave you with a duller sense of taste and smell. If you smoke, you may also have a longer healing time when you receive dental treatments.
Playing Sports Without Protecting Your Mouth
Playing a sport can be fun whether you’re 15 or 95. Group or individual sports don’t need to be off-limits to anyone. However, if you opt to enjoy basketball, martial arts, gymnastics, water polo, boxing, and a variety of other sports, you should invest in a customized mouth guard to avoid dental injuries and protect the health of your teeth and gums.
The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs encourages the use of a mouth guard. Without a mouth guard, you may experience a chipped tooth, or an entire tooth may be knocked out. Luxation may also occur where the tooth is still in the socket but in the wrong direction. A mouth guard helps cushion the blow and can protect other areas of your face beyond the teeth and gums.
Chomping Down on Ice
Chewing ice can be fun and refreshing. Ice is certainly calorie-free, but it may not be guilt-free if it damages your teeth. Chewing ice can hurt your gums, cause fractures in your tooth enamel, cause a broken tooth, or leave you with sore jaw muscles. This bad habit may also lead to issues with dental work you’ve had done in the past like fillings, crowns, and bridges.
If you have braces or are recovering from recent dental treatments, your teeth may be especially vulnerable to the perils of chewing ice. If you find yourself craving ice, you should get an exam to make sure it’s not a symptom of an underlying condition. Try drinking water when you want to chew ice. When you must chew ice, go for shaved ice rather than big chunks.
Snacking Often Throughout the Day
Frequent snacking is often referred to as grazing. Many health and weight loss gurus recommend that people try to eat small meals throughout the day instead of three square meals daily. However, you have an increased risk of tooth decay when you eat frequently throughout the day.
Your mouth needs a break between eating to fight off damage to teeth. If possible, snack less often. When you do eat, consider your choices carefully. Rather than eat a candy bar an hour or two after lunch, try to eat a healthier dessert in the same sitting as your lunch. Avoid sticky, chewy, and hard candies when you’re snacking at any time of day.
What you drink can be as important as what you eat when it comes to dental health. If your daily diet includes a steady stream of soda consumption throughout the day, your teeth may be in trouble. The sugar, acids, and preservatives in soda can all be damaging. Soda has also been linked to health problems like diabetes that can further complicate dental care.
Bacteria feed on the sugar in soda, and they metabolize that sugar and subsequently create acids that attack the enamel on your teeth. Choosing diet soda won’t necessarily solve the problem, though. Several types of diet soda have acids that can soften tooth enamel.
While it’s best to give up soda altogether, at least reduce your soda intake if you cannot eliminate it. One soda per day is much better for your teeth than several. Also, if you can’t give up soda, try to drink it through a straw. That minimizes the soda’s direct contact with your teeth.
Finally, talk your doctor and dentist if you have any doubts about how your habits are affecting any aspect of your dental health. Also establish teeth-healthy habits like brushing for two minutes twice daily, using an interdental device once a day, and swishing with ADA-approved mouthwash. Contact Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates for your next cleaning or check-up.