The surprising things you thought were good for your teeth – and why they’re actually wrecking them.
Ninety-four percent of people say the first thing that notice about people is their smile. Beautiful teeth convey so much – happiness, confidence, warmth and attractiveness. And the key to a pretty smile, of course, is a gorgeous set of pearly whites. While we can’t promise you a supermodel smile, we can share nine ways you’re unwittingly causing everything from tooth enamel erosion to plaque build-up and more.
1 You’re using your Teeth as a Tool: You’re proud of the fact that your teeth are razor-sharp enough to tear through that bag of chips that you’re dying to eat. But they may not stay that way if you continue to use them as an all-purpose opener. The tip of a tooth is the thinnest – and the quickest to wear. The packaging on something like a bag of crackers can be hard to open. Pulling hard against it with the tips of teeth can cause them to chip.
2. You are brushing your Teeth wrong: You can rest easy knowing you brush your teeth twice a day, right? Wrong. It turns out that many of us commit tooth-brushing blunders that can compromise the quality of our teeth. The worst mistake? Brushing too hard in a back-and-forth horizontal motion, people think that if they’re using hard bristles, they’ll wipe away more plaque, but you can actually brush away your enamel and wear down the area where the gums meet the tooth structure, causing gum recession. So not a pretty look.
3. You are failing to safeguard against stains:You’re a popular guy or gal, so you often find yourself socializing over a glass of wine or coffee. And while your catch-up sessions are a boost to your confidence, they’re a bane to your teeth, which can pick up gnarly surface stains from all those richly colored drinks.
4. You are flossing wrong: Crappy news for those of us who’ve been so smug about our top-notch flossing habits: We might be destroying our gums in the process. If you snap or pop the string in between your teeth, you’re liable to damage the “triangle of gum” that comes to a point in between teeth. And once our gums begin to recede, they expose the oh-so-sensitive root of the tooth.
5. You’re Ignoring signs you grind you’re teeth: Ever wake up with headaches or a pain in front of your ear? That could be a sign that you’re a tooth grinder or clencher. Waking up with your teeth in a clenched position is another telltale sign. All that gnashing of the teeth while you slumber can lead to significant enamel erosion, but getting a mouth guard from a dentist can protect pearly whites from your nocturnal activities.
6. You’re Skipping Post Rinse Rinse: Prepare to do a spit-take with your mouthwash. Most of us think of mouth rinse as a potent germ-killer, but some variations can actually create bacteria-friendly environments. If you happen to use an alcohol-based mouth rinse, the alcohol in it can dry out the mouth – and bacteria thrive in dry environments. (It’s the reason morning breath is a thing; our salivary production slows down at night, which contributes to dry mouth and the multiplication of bacteria.)
7. You’re Skipping Sugar Free Gum: If you find yourself out unable to brush or floss, try reaching for sugar-free gum. Chewing sugarless gum is good because the mechanical action of chewing gum can remove plaque from the surfaces of the teeth. But make sure not to overdo it: Too much chewing can aggravate the muscles by your temporomandibular joint.
8: You’re Juicing: Your fruit smoothies are chock-full of vitamins – as well as sugar and acid. When you combine multiple fruits into a single drink, you get way more sugar than you would if you were to eat fruit individually. To lessen the damage, try drinking smoothies through straws, which help funnel sugars away from the surface of the teeth, and consuming them quickly so that you’re not continually bathing teeth in sugar.
9. Chewing ICE: You wouldn’t chew on a rock, right? So, why chew on something that’s almost as hard as one? Breaking down a cube of ice requires a lot of pressure, which can wear down enamel and even cause it to chip. Not so cool, right?