Having healthy teeth and gums is something many of us probably take for granted…until we no longer have healthy teeth!
Here are some surprising every day things you could be doing that can harm your teeth. (Not so surprising, drinking a 12-pack of Mountain Dew every day isn’t on this list.)
- Using Your Teeth Like a Swiss Army Knife – Your teeth have 3 important jobs. Eating, talking and smiling; that’s all your teeth should do. But many of us also believe that our teeth are really helpful for doing other daily tasks, like tearing open plastic packaging, biting our nails, using them as a bottle opener. Using your teeth as tools will cause them to crack or chip. Rely on your teeth for their 3 top functions, and use scissors, nail clippers, bottle openers, or any other tool, for doing anything else. (This includes using your teeth as ice-crushers!)
- Cannabis Can Cause Cavities – Having the “munchies” and overdoing it on starchy & sugary junk food could be a concern for tooth decay, but that’s not the only cavity-causing side effect from marijuana. Smoking cannabis can also create “cotton mouth”, or dry mouth, which inhibits the mouth’s ability to produce saliva. A mouth without saliva creates an ideal environment for bacteria to build up…which can cause tooth decay and cavities – find out why saliva is truly your mouth’s super-hero. Smoking pot may also make you more susceptible for gum disease. According to a Duke University study, participants who smoked marijuana over a 20 year period, had a greater degree of gum disease.
- Practicing Dental Hygiene with a Vengeance – Not brushing or flossing daily is harmful to the health of your teeth and gums. And so is overzealous daily hygiene! Brushing your teeth too often, too hard, or using the wrong tooth brush, can cause more harm than good. It can cause issues such as receding gums, damage to your tooth enamel and tooth sensitivity. Are you over-doing it? Find out if you’re brushing and flossing correctly!
- Brushing Right After Eating – We’ve been taught to brush our teeth after meals, but sometimes brushing too soon after you eat may not be so good for your teeth. Brushing your teeth right after you consume acidic foods (citrus fruits, blueberries, tomatoes) or drinks (sodas, sports drinks, orange juice) can actually remove enamel on your teeth that’s been weakened by the acid. What should you do if you regularly consume acidic foods or drinks? Wait 30 minutes to an hour before brushing, or brush your teeth before you eat, and then rinse your mouth with water after your meal. Note: Waiting a while to brush, after you eat, is also advised for people who suffer from GERD (heartburn) or bulimia.
- Swimming – Do you swim in a pool regularly? If you do, you may be harming your teeth without knowing it. Swimming pool chemicals, especially chlorine, are linked to enamel erosion. And pools with improper chlorination levels – pool water where the pH level falls below 7 – are the biggest culprits. Both the American Journal of Dentistry and The Journal of the Canadian Dental Association report that swimming regularly in a pool with a high chlorine content can cause a rapid increase in dental erosion and sensitivity. Whenever you swallow the water, you could be exposing your teeth to harmful chemicals. Tip: Keep your mouth shut when you’re in the pool. Limiting the amount of water that gets into your mouth when you swim will help protect your teeth when you’re swimming in heavily chlorinated water.
Instead of dwelling on those things that harm your teeth, there are plenty of easy ways to focus on protecting your oral health. Not taking your teeth for granted will serve you well for many, many years. We pride ourselves on helping patients enjoy a lifetime of good oral health. And that begins with maintaining your preventative dental hygiene, which includes your annual dental exams and teeth cleanings. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your teeth examined and cleaned, please give us a call at (206) 242-0066 or schedule your appointment online! We look forward to seeing you soon!