You’re likely already aware of the importance of keeping your mouth healthy, but do you know which habits can be worse for your dental health? Read on to learn about the worst habits and how to break them for healthier teeth and gums.
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Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene can lead to dental decay and a whole host of other dental issues. Without proper oral hygiene, the microscopic bacteria that live within the plaque found on teeth grow unchecked. This leads to the build-up of dental plaque, tartar deposits, and acidity in your mouth which in turn can lead to cavities, gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and other undesirable conditions.
To maintain optimum oral health, brush your teeth twice daily (morning and night). It is important to floss at least once per day as well. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and toothpaste with fluoride. Brush your tongue as well as this helps reduce bad breath caused by bacteria on its surface.
See a dentist at least twice a year in order to ensure necessary preventive care such as cleanings are completed. During these visits, your dentist will look for signs of cavities or gum diseases as well as check for any irregularities in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down – something that can happen over time if left unchecked.
Eating Sugary Foods and Drinks
Eating too much sugar can lead to a wide range of dental health problems. Sugar has been linked to tooth decay, cavities, and other oral diseases due to the way that sugar mixes with bacteria in the mouth. The combination of sugar and bacteria produces an acid that wears away at teeth and weakens enamel, leading to tooth decay.
When consumed in moderation, sugars from unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables are not necessarily detrimental to your dental health. However, it’s important to be mindful of your intake of sugary snacks and beverages such as soda, sports drinks, cookies, candy, and other processed foods as they can quickly add up over time. Additionally, acidic sugary snacks or drinks—such as candy or soda—should never be consumed on an empty stomach because they can further lower the pH levels in your mouth which further aids in the breakdown of teeth.
Smoking and Chewing Tobacco
Smoking and chewing tobacco are two of the worst habits for your dental health. Not only does smoking increase your risk for oral cancer, gum disease, enamel discoloration, and bad breath, but it can also affect your nerve endings – leading to a decreased ability to taste food.
Chewing tobacco is no better – it can cause lesions in the mouth, discoloration on teeth and gums, destruction of tissue, and ulcers in the mouth. Over time this habit can lead to severe damage to teeth themselves as well as increased risk of oral cancers.
The best way to avoid the ill effects of smoking and chewing tobacco is simply to avoid them altogether. If you’re already a smoker or user of smokeless tobacco products, quit as soon as possible – with help from your doctor or dentist if necessary. Quitting these habits not only improves your dental health but also reduces the risk of several potentially serious health conditions such as heart disease and lung cancer.
Skipping Dentist Visits
Regular dentist visits are critical for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. In fact, examining your mouth can be more important than brushing, because it allows your dentist to spot potential problems and address them before they become more serious. During cleanings and check-ups, your dentist can identify problems with the teeth and gums that you may miss or be unaware of when self-inspecting at home.
It’s typically recommended that people visit their dental team twice a year – or even more frequently if they’re at higher risk for gum disease or cavities.
Certain treatments may also require additional follow-up appointments; for example, dentists will usually ask patients to return several weeks after an implant is placed so they can check to ensure it is healing properly.
Drinking Alcohol Regularly
Drinking alcohol, especially in high amounts, can lead to a number of different dental health problems. It can cause dry mouth, or xerostomia, as well as allow sugar to stay on the teeth longer which can lead to cavities. Alcohol can also make it more difficult for your body to absorb important vitamins and minerals that support healthy teeth like vitamins A, C, and calcium.
Regular drinking is also a contributing factor in gum disease and can cause staining that discolors the enamel of your teeth. Drinking alcohol should be limited and done in moderation if at all possible. If you do choose to drink alcohol on a regular basis, make sure you brush and floss your teeth thoroughly after enjoying any beverage containing it.
Clenching and Grinding Teeth
Clenching or grinding your teeth can be both painful and damaging to the overall health of your smile. Clenching and grinding often accompany periods of stress or anxiety, but they can also happen while sleeping. This condition, known as bruxism, affects from 8% to 31% of adults and can cause tooth sensitivity, broken fillings, cracked or chipped teeth and even headaches.
Both clenching and grinding position the upper jaw ahead of its normal position when the mouth is closed and put tension on the face muscles and joints. Teeth clenching can increase more than 200 times more force than regular function biting; over time this can result in gum recession, changes in bite alignment, and worn-down tooth enamel leading to decay.
Not Wearing a Mouthguard During Sports
When participating in any type of sport it’s important to wear a mouthguard. A mouthguard sometimes referred to as a sports guard, is a type of plastic device worn to protect your teeth, gums, and lips from injury. Many dentists recommend that both adults and children wear a mouthguard while playing any sport that has the potential for facial injury.
The kind of mouthguard recommended by most dentists varies depending on the sport you are playing. There are custom-made sports guards available at most dental offices, which provide optimal protection because they are designed to fit your exact oral contours and remain securely in place during strenuous activity. Non-custom styles like the boil-and-bite type can be purchased from many sporting goods stores; however, these generic types do not offer as much protection or comfort as the custom ones do.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the worst habits for your dental health?
The worst habits for dental health are smoking, drinking too much soda, not brushing and flossing properly, not visiting the dentist regularly, grinding your teeth, eating sugary snacks, and using your teeth as a tool.
How often should I visit the dentist?
It is recommended that you visit your dentist at least every 6 months for regular checkups and cleanings.
What happens if I don’t brush and floss properly?
Not brushing and flossing properly can lead to plaque buildup, cavities, and gum disease.
Taking care of your oral health is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. By following the advice given above, you should be able to avoid the seven worst habits for your dental health. Remember to brush and floss twice a day and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and professional cleanings.
In addition, you should be mindful of what you eat and drink, avoid sugary and acidic foods when possible, as well as protecting your mouth while playing sports or engaging in any activity that can potentially affect your teeth or gums. Making these basic lifestyle changes can help preserve your dental health for years to come.