Brush twice a day, floss once a day, use mouthwash, and avoid sugar says the dentists at Smiles on Bristol Dentistry in Santa Ana. These are the general steps to keeping your mouth healthy and happy. However, there are a number of things that may be damaging your teeth without you knowing. Below is a list of common foods and habits that may be hurting your teeth:
Chewing on Ice Cubes
Chewing on ice cubes may provide a fun crunch, however that crunch could be damaging your teeth. Because of the hardness of ice cubes, they can put unnecessary strain and pressure on your teeth. Healthy teeth will likely be okay, but for teeth weakened by any tooth decay, the strain can cause them to crack or chip.
Certain medications can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth occurs when your body makes less saliva than normal. Saliva helps keep the mouth at a healthy pH, helps kills bacteria, and helps remineralize teeth. When there is less saliva in the mouth, the teeth are less protected. A number of medications cause dry mouth leading some doctors to wonder if our dependence on prescribing medications may be partially causing the upswing in the rate of tooth decay.
You should double check the label of any medications you are taking to see if dry mouth is listed as a symptom. If it is and you want to help improve your oral protection, you can invest in products such as Biotene that help replace the saliva in your mouth. NSAID pain relievers, antihistamines, and acid reflux medications can all cause dry mouth. Infrequent uses of these drugs will not cause a major problem, but if you use these medications daily, you may want to take actions to protect against dry mouth.
Pools are treated with chlorine to kill bacteria. Because chlorine is an acid, getting pool water in your mouth can cause tooth erosion because the chlorine drops the pH level in your mouth. If you swim a lot, take extra precautions to not get pool water in your mouth to protect it from this potential acid erosion.
Certain Healthy Foods
A variety of foods that have otherwise many benefits for the body can be contributing to tooth decay. Any type of citrus food is chalk-full of acid that will erode your teeth. Vinegar-based salad dressings and pickled foods are also highly acidic and will cause damage to your teeth.
Almonds can also be damaging to your teeth. They are similarly hard like ice, and compress when you bite them rather than breaking apart. This causes major strain on the teeth. Almonds, however, are a great source of calcium which helps to strengthen the teeth. Try buying sliced almonds or almond products like almond milk to get the great tooth boosting calcium without the damaging crunch.
Juicing can also cause problems for your mouth. Juicing keeps all the acid from different fruits like citrus or apples and bathes your teeth in it. Try rinsing your mouth with water after eating anything acidic to help get the acids away from your teeth. Also eating cheese after consuming acidic foods can help neutralize the acids and give you teeth a boost of calcium.
Brushing right after Eating and Brushing too Hard
While it is good to brush after eating to remove bacteria, acid, and plaque as soon as possible, brushing too quickly after eating can actually be damaging. The bacteria in your mouth are most active right after you eat, releasing lactic acid that damages the teeth. This acid weakens the teeth, so when you run abrasive toothpaste and bristles over the teeth, they can actually damage the tooth. Dentists Dr. Kalantari and Dr. Arcila of Smiles on Bristol Dentistry in Santa Ana, California, recommend waiting 20 minutes after eating before brushing. This gives the teeth a chance to harden again before you run abrasives over them. It is also still quick enough to get rid of much of the plaque that develops.
Also, because brushing is an abrasive process, it is possible to brush too hard which can wear down both the teeth and the gums. Many gum recession incidents are cause by brushing that is too aggressive. Toothbrushes and pastes are designed to protect the teeth without the need for strong pressure, so be gentle with your mouth and buy soft bristled brushes.
While both green and black teas can actually benefit your mouth, some fruit-flavored teas are actually very acidic and can damage your teeth. Lemon flavored teas are some of the most damaging. Black and green teas actually fight bacteria in the mouth and provide antioxidants which benefits the body. Black tea is more refined than green tea, losing a bit of the antioxidant content, so if you want the best tea for your mouth, stick with the green.