Since early childhood, we have all been told repeatedly to brush and floss and visit the dentist regularly for exams. Most of us heed that advice. But what about the additional recommendations? Unfortunately, most of us still have a few bad habits that can damage our teeth, cause a less-than-brilliant smile, and perhaps even harm our overall health and well-being.
Here are seven no-nos that you might have heard, but maybe haven’t yet taken to heart!
1. Escape the Daily Grind
The Massachusetts Dental Society notes that “approximately 50 to 96 percent of adults experience bruxism,” commonly known as tooth grinding, and that it is a habit that 15 percent of children acquire. If you gnash or grind your teeth, either consciously or during sleep, ask your dentist about a tooth guard to help fight that habit. The problem is that, over time, constant grinding can damage or wear away tooth enamel, and may cause fractures and eventual tooth loss. Also, if you like chewing on ice as some people do, try to break that habit as well, for the same reasons.
2. Give Up Sodas and Fruit Drinks
There are plenty of reasons to decrease or eliminate sugary drinks from your diet. But even if you have switched to sugar-free drinks, many carbonated beverages are loaded with phosphoric, citric and tartaric acids that damage tooth enamel and stimulate erosion and decay. There’s a very good reason why doctors and dentists recommend plain water! It’s good for you in all ways.
3. Do Without Cough Drops
Sucking on cough drops may soothe your throat, but they don’t do your teeth any favors, according to dental studies. There are probably more ‘tooth-friendly’ ways to calm a cough. Why not ask both your dentist and your doctor for some advice if you often feel the need to pop a cough drop into your mouth. (The same goes for any hard candy that you might use frequently.)
4. Go Easy on the Wine
Unfortunately, both red and white wine can harm those pearly whites! The tannins and chromogens in red varieties will discolor tooth enamel, but those tannins also tend to make teeth ‘sticky’ and contribute to dry mouth, which leads to decay, a not so nice after effect! White wine, too, it turns out, can contribute to stains by making your tooth enamel more receptive to staining from other foods. So, if you drink wine, at least follow it with a pure water chaser!
5. Be Wary of Crackers and Chips
No doubt about it — salty, doughy snacks taste great. But they are not wonderful for your teeth. The starch and refined carbohydrate components of these oh-so-good between-meal treats turn to sugar, and the pasty residue builds up between your teeth, making a perfect breeding ground for cavity-forming bacteria. And who brushes after eating a bowl of potato chips?
6. Say No to Oral Piercing
Among certain groups, it is a popular trend to sport a barbell or a lip stud. But that fad can do damage to your teeth and your oral health in more than one-way. Tongue piercings are problematic if you accidentally bite down on the metal stud. In addition to the possibility of chipping or cracking a tooth, the jewelry may cause receding gums, which leads to eventual tooth loss. Also, oral sores and infections are common among people with tongue or lip piercings. The best recommendation is to be happy with other kinds of jewelry.
7. Heed the Good Advice
Because of the ties between strong teeth, healthy gums, and general wellness, listen to the latest advice to improve the state of your mouth. We urge you to schedule a consultation and let us steer you toward a future of healthy teeth and gums, as well as a bright and beautiful smile.
This article was recently edited. Originally published: May 3, 2016.