“Oh, I can’t open this package of pretzels. I’ll just use my teeth.” Not a good idea. “One of these days I’m going to kick this all-day coffee addiction.” Good idea. “I’m so stressed out I just chewed through another pencil.” Awareness of your own bad habits is half the battle to saving your smile. Your teeth are strong and tough (if you take good care of them), but they can only take so much abuse. These four bad habits are damaging your teeth.
1. Indulging in an all-day oral habit.
Sucking on hard candy, peppermints, or lollipops. Drinking soda or coffee all day long. These may seem like harmless habits that get you through the day, keep your breath fresh, or help you maintain your weight, but what they’re all really doing is bathing your teeth in a constant pool of sugar and acid. Your teeth can only take so much until the barrage starts wearing away at your enamel, causing tooth decay or major stains.
2. Brushing and brushing and brushing.
Yes, it is super-important to keep up with preventive care and take good care of your teeth, brushing twice daily and flossing once every day. But it is possible to get carried away with cleanliness of your teeth even though you have good intentions. Scrubbing relentlessly and forcefully can lead to gum recession, bleeding gums, and other oral health problems. Good dental hygiene isn’t about how often you brush or how hard, it’s about how well you clean your teeth every day. Use a soft-bristle brush and keep to your twice-brushed, once-flossed regimen every day. And don’t forget to make a visit to your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and dental exam.
3. Using your teeth as a tool.
Your teeth are not a pair of scissors, nor are they bottle openers. Your teeth are intended to chew your food, improve your speech, and help your face maintain its shape. If you can’t open something, reject the urge to bring that bag, package, or bottle to your mouth and take the time to find a better instrument to pry it open. Using your teeth as a tool puts you at risk for chipped, cracked, or broken teeth.
4. Maintaining an addiction to DIY tooth whitening.
Sure, those over-the-counter white strips work when used properly. But often people who try them once and see results keep using and using the strips for optimum whiteness. Instead of brighter teeth, what will actually happen if you overuse these store-bought whitening solutions is major damage to your enamel. Over-bleaching can make your smile look translucent – and a little bizarre. Plus you can develop gum and tooth sensitivity. A professional in-office teeth whitening treatment from your dentist only takes about an hour and it will save you money and effort as well as time, not to mention it’s much kinder to your teeth and will look far more natural and appealing.
It should go without saying, but bad habits like smoking, mouth piercings, and grinding or clenching your teeth do your oral health no favors either. Be kind to your teeth, be good to your health, and be mindful. Schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Yolanda Cintron at Fort Lauderdale’s International Center for Dental Excellence to learn more about editing your oral health habits and getting the smile makeover you need to repair any problem areas.