So you brush your teeth twice a day. But do you have any of these tooth-shattering habits?
When it comes to dental care, most of the time it’s easy to do the basics — brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and using mouthwash. But there are some damaging habits you might not realise you’re doing.
Chewing and Crunching on Ice
You might think that chewing on ice is better than eating ice cream — it’s calorie-free and has a satisfying crunch. But did you realise that the cold makes your teeth far more fragile? If you drink an iced drink and then chew the ice afterwards, your teeth (already brittle from the temperature) can develop microscopic fractures in the enamel and in the long term break altogether — sometimes right down to the root.
Crushed ice is slightly better but is still bad for you. Although you’re not fracturing your teeth, the cold is still making your teeth brittle and vulnerable to damage. If you’re constantly feeling the urge to chew ice, you should speak to your GP as you may be suffering from undiagnosed anaemia.
Sipping Diet Drinks
You might think that by switching from sugary fizzy drinks to diet fizzy drinks you’re protecting your teeth from decay, and with around 35g of sugar per can of regular Coca-Cola, you’d be right to want to avoid it. But did you realise that fizzy drinks are also acidic? By drinking them, especially in large quantities, you’re exposing your teeth to a constant stream of acid. If you’re drinking fizzy drinks, including energy drinks (which are also heavily acidic and sugary in many cases) make sure that you are pairing them with water and drink them through a straw to avoid contact with your teeth.
Using your teeth as a multitool
You might think there’s nothing wrong with tearing open the odd plastic packet with your teeth, or even opening the odd beer bottle. Even if you don’t feel it at the time, you are causing long-term damage to your teeth, fracturing, chipping and even breaking them. If you feel tempted to use your teeth, balance up the price of a leatherman or swiss army knife with the price of a crown or a dental implant.
Chewing Pens and Pencils
Do you nibble on pen lids? Crunch on pencils? Chew on your fingernails? You’re putting your teeth under incredible pressure, as well as adding bacteria to your mouth. If you feel the need to chew, try to stay away from inedible objects. Try eating a healthy snack with a satisfying crunch, such as carrot or celery stick.
Grinding your Teeth
You might not think this is a habit so much as an affliction — bruxism, whether it happens day or night, is often the result of stress and anxiety. If you think you might be grinding your teeth, speak to your dentist. They can fit you with a mouthguard for night wear to prevent clenching and grinding in your sleep. Daytime bruxism is almost twice as common as nighttime bruxism and can be treated in a similar way: with a mouthguard. If you are grinding your teeth during the day, you might be suffering from stress so consider speaking to your GP if you feel that you need help.
Brushing too soon after eating
You might be one of those people who brushes their teeth several times a day. Although on paper this seems like a good idea, depending on what you eat and drink during the day you could be dissolving your enamel. If you are eating and drinking energy drinks, fizzy drinks, orange juice, wine and tomatoes you should be waiting half an hour before you brush your teeth as these are all prone to softening your tooth enamel, making it vulnerable to being brushed away. Unless advised by your dentist, you should only need to brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed.
Using a hard toothbrush
So you’re brushing twice a day, morning and night, and leaving half an hour after eating and drinking enamel-softening foods. But what about your toothbrush? You might think a hard toothbrush is more efficient at brushing but did you know that using a toothbrush that is too hard can erode your gums and enamel? If you are concerned about your toothbrush or brushing technique, speak to your dentist. You should be brushing gently with a soft-bristled brush at a 45-degree angle in a circular motion.
Using an old toothbrush
When did you last replace your toothbrush? If you haven’t bought a new one in the last three to four months, your toothbrush is probably harbouring harmful bacteria and damaged bristles, making it less effective and even damaging to your gums. Bear in mind you may need to replace it sooner if the bristles start to bend outwards (although if this happens within a month you may want to revise your brushing technique as you are probably brushing far too hard). This applies to all types of toothbrush, including electric toothbrush heads.
Being too tired or busy to always brush your teeth
You might think there’s nothing wrong with occasionally skipping brushing your teeth — maybe you’re running late and you need to catch a bus or maybe you’re too tired after a long day of work. The bacteria that builds up on your teeth, even overnight when you aren’t eating, can quickly become tartar, a hard, yellowish substance that causes inflammation and, eventually, causes tooth loss. Brushing your teeth takes two minutes a day and costs you the price of a toothbrush and toothpaste — an extraction can cost you far, far more.
If you’re staying away from these nine habits, you’re taking better care of your teeth than a quarter of the UK population!
Looking for a dentist in Stonehouse? Townes and Townes provide treatment at the highest possible standard. Visit our site to book a comprehensive dental health check now!