You brush your teeth twice a day, floss and see your dentist every six months. You’ve got your oral health on lock, right? Unfortunately, even if you’ve got the basics covered, you might be sabotaging your smile by engaging in habits that most people would consider ‘healthy.’ Read on to find out seven sneaky things that might be hurting your dental hygiene.
Yes, your dentist says to brush at least twice a day, but did you know that many people take this too far and end up doing more damage than good? Dentists say that brushing too hard is probably the most common error that patients make in their oral care routine. This can lead to receding gums, bleeding gums and sensitive teeth. Luckily, there’s an easy fix: use a lighter hand and consider switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush. Your gums will thank you.
Brushing immediately after eating
The minute you finish your OJ in the morning do you immediately reach for your toothbrush? Or after eating really garlicky tomato pasta? The idea is right, and yes, no one likes having garlic breath, but try to delay brushing for at least 30 minutes after eating something acidic. Acidic foods like tomatoes or oranges temporarily soften the enamel of your teeth, and brushing immediately after consuming these foods can remove the enamel. If you can’t wait 30 minutes (especially in the morning), try brushing your teeth beforehand.
Warm lemon water
This healthy trend is touted by lots of wellness experts as good for digestion and strengthening immunity, but dental experts say that sipping this acidic beverage more than once a day can do pretty serious damage to your chompers. Lemons are highly acidic and can lead to dental erosion especially if you sip slowly. Try to limit your lemon water intake to once a day. Sipping it through a straw can also alleviate some of the erosive qualities.
Drinking only bottled water
If you refuse to drink tap water you are denying your body healthy fluoride! The fluoride in tap water is shown to reduce tooth decay up to 25 percent plus you’ll be reducing your environmental footprint by eschewing plastic. If you absolutely can’t stand the taste of tap water, you can even filter it as long as you’re not filtering out the fluoride, but don’t deny your body of this free benefit! Once you start drinking tap water, your saliva will have a low level of fluoride that will be benefiting your teeth 24/7.
Drinking wine, coffee and seltzer
There is a lot of conflicting information out there about the potential antioxidant benefits of wine and coffee. There’s no doubt that all three of these options are healthier than soda, but they all also have erosive properties—yes even seltzer. Not to mention, Wine and coffee are some of the worst offenders when it comes to tooth stain. Try to offset the high acidity of these foods by drinking them with water at the same time, or nibbling on a piece of cheese—which is a highly basic food and can raise the pH in your mouth to balance out your beverage.
Taking your medicine
Unfortunately, your dental health and your overall health are sometimes at odds. Many common medications are extremely drying – great for getting your nose to stop running, but not so great for your teeth. These drying medications limit saliva production (which helps to buffer acids or wash away debris from your teeth). If you know that your medication gives you dry mouth, take extra precautions to stay hydrated—drink lots and lots of fluids. If that isn’t enough, try chewing sugarless gum—which stimulates saliva production—or find sprays specifically designed for this purpose. Never stop taking prescription medications without consulting your doctor first.
It’s cool, it’s calorie-free and it’s harmless, right? Unfortunately, dentists say that crunching on ice is one of the main habits they try to get their patients to break. Munching ice can dull down your teeth which can throw off your bite and have all kinds of adverse effects on your oral health. Plus, you might even crack your tooth, which is not only painful but very expensive to repair. Avoid all the stress, and break yourself of your ice crunching habit.