At Beadnell Family Dentistry, we want to ensure our patients enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. To help our patients enjoy a healthy mouth, SW Hills Dentist Dr. Beadnell and her friendly staff provide useful advice about the best way to maintain your oral health.
While brushing and flossing daily remain the two most important habits you can maintain to protect the health of your teeth and gums, there are also other habits you can adopt to prevent harmful plaque from causing tooth decay and gum disease.
What you eat and drink when snacking can play an enormous role on the long-term health of your teeth and gums, and paying more attention to the meals you enjoy and the drinks you grab can make a major difference. Approximately 25 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have lost all of their teeth; here are some tips on how you can keep yours.
Your Teeth & Sugar
By far, the top enemy to your teeth is sugar, and the longer the sugar remains in your mouth, the more damage it can cause. When you eat sugar, the sticky bacteria that lives in your mouth known as plaque begins to produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel. Given enough time, and these plaque acids can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
If you’re someone who enjoys snacking throughout the day on pieces of candy or chocolate treats, you provide the plaque on your teeth an ample amount of fuel to produce harmful acids that damage your teeth. While all sugar does damage, candies such as gummy bears, caramel, or taffy that tend to stick should be avoided as they bathe your teeth in sugar. Dried fruit such as cranberries or raisins that stick are no better for the health of your teeth. If you must snack, try eating fresh fruit or raw vegetables instead.
Your Teeth & What You Drink
Soda, whether sugar-free or not, and all other types of carbonated beverages can do significant damage to the health of your teeth. The problem with carbonated beverages, whether a glass of club soda, orange juice, or a sports drink, is that the carbonation in the drink raises the acidity levels in your mouth. When the acidity in your mouth increases, plaque acids work more effectively at damaging your tooth enamel. A bottle of soda can actually cause more damage to your teeth than battery acid!
It’s not just sugary drinks that cause damage either. Red wine, coffee, and some types of tea are also high in acidity, and can lead to further plaque damage. Alcohol and coffee also help to dry out the mouth, which leads to a decrease in saliva in the mouth. Saliva works as a natural defense against plaque, and helps to neutralize damaging acids. When saliva levels are low, your mouth has no way to offset the damage caused by plaque.
To help wash away and neutralize harmful acids, make sure to drink a glass of water following each carbonated or sugary beverage you consume.
Other Bad Habits
Because our teeth are so resilient, we often take the health of our teeth for granted. This can cause many people to engage in bad habits that can directly damage their teeth. Chewing on ice, pens, or pencils, for example, can cause you teeth to chip, crack, or break, especially if your teeth have already been worn down.
As a general rule of thumb, if you can’t eat it, don’t put it in your mouth. This includes using your teeth to open plastic bags, snap off clothing tags, or pop the top off a bottle. If you feel the need to chew on something, reach for a piece of sugar free gum instead.
Smoking also negatively affects your oral health. In addition to turning your teeth yellow and decreasing the gum line, smoking also increases your risk of developing oral cancer. Chewing tobacco can actually cause even more damage than smoking because the carcinogens from the tobacco come into direct contact with your teeth and gums.
Finally, a hidden problem that millions of Americans suffer from is bruxism, or teeth grinding. Teeth grinding generally occurs while asleep, so you might not realize your even have a problem. If you wakeup often with a sore jaw or a headache, you should consider talking with Dr. Beadnell about whether you’re suffering from bruxism. If diagnosed with the condition, Dr. Beadnell can provide you with a mouth guard to wear while sleeping to protect the health of your teeth.
If you have any further questions about bad habits for your teeth, make sure to mention them to Dr. Beadnell or her staff during your next appointment.