You brush your teeth constantly, you never chew gum and you drink diet soda instead of regular. You may think all those things are protecting your teeth. But you’re wrong.
As it turns out, many things that people consider healthy behavior are anything but healthy when it comes to their teeth. So why the confusion? Some of these habits are things that are okay in moderation but can hurt your teeth if you do them too much. Others are things that researchers have learned over time are actually not beneficial to your teeth.
It’s possible to stop the ill effects of bad habits immediately if you quit. Over time, you may even be able to reverse any troubles. Here are seven things you should no longer be doing when it comes to your teeth:
1. Brushing After Every Meal
Many people think they should pull out their toothbrush the moment they push away from the table. They want to get rid of the sugar and bacteria in their mouths as soon as possible to avoid cavities.
But while that does sound like good reasoning, it doesn’t work out in practice. Brushing after every meal can actually cause additional wear to tooth enamel in some cases. In the case of your growing adolescents, this can be particularly devastating as there’s no way to regain that enamel later in life.
Premature loss of tooth enamel is a devestating effect of poor diet and dental habits that can’t be reversed later in life
For example, if you eat a meal with an acidic food, such as oranges or lemons, the citric acid in those foods will attack your tooth enamel. Brushing right after that can weaken the already-vulnerable enamel, leading to decay.
If you had a sugary meal or you really can’t abide the feeling of not cleaning your mouth after a meal, make a switch. Swish water around in your mouth after you finish eating, which will help carry away bacteria and sugars.
2. Brushing Too Vigorously
If brushing your teeth is healthy, then brushing them hard must be even better, right? Wrong.
Pushing too hard on your teeth can wear away your gums. Gum recession becomes a serious problem if you don’t address it, leading to loose teeth or gum disease.
3. Chewing Gum
You may assume it’s always better to forego gum. But if you suffer from dry mouth, a condition that can lead to tooth decay, and your mouth does not produce enough saliva naturally, you may actually benefit from popping a piece of sugarless gum. It can spark saliva production in your mouth, washing away plaque and acid that builds up in your mouth when it becomes dry.
Some medications cause dry mouth. When this happens, chewing sugarless gum is a smart way to combat the problem. You should still avoid sugary gum, which is bad for your teeth.
4. Drinking Diet Soda
You may pride yourself on opting for a diet soda over the delicious cane sugar ones made by local favorite Thomas Kemper. But just because soda has no sugar doesn’t mean you should drink it. The citric acid in diet soda can be just as harmful to teeth.
5. Grazing Throughout the Day
For a few years, it was trendy to have five to six small snacks each day rather than eating three square meals a day. Nutritionists said it kept the body’s metabolism steady and prevented blood sugar ebbs and flows.
But many people took this as a license to nibble on sugary snacks throughout the day, which can lead to a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. Further, poor nutritional habits like skipping meals can hurt your overall health and lead to other problems that might impact your oral hygiene.
6. Drinking Coffee or Tea Daily
You probably drink these for their antioxidants and caffeine. But you can stain your teeth when you imbibe them too frequently. Additionally, when you do drink coffee or tea, avoid sugar or other sweeteners.
7. Chewing Ice
While most people realize this isn’t the smartest choice, they may not understand just how detrimental this common habit can be. You can crack a tooth or dislodge a crown or filling when you chomp on ice.
Spread the Word
Now that you know what habits to let go of, you should see an improvement in your oral health. Let your friends and family know what they can do to stop inadvertently hurting their teeth. You can also pass these smart new habits on to your kids, so they avoid picking up those bad ones.