7 things you didn’t know are bad for your teethDr Alice Yang
Most people have heard the good dental care messages loud and clear.
Brush your teeth twice a day, don’t eat too many sweets, and visit the dentist for six-monthly check-ups.
But could you be doing some things that you shouldn’t be doing – without even knowing it?
Here are seven things you might be doing that are bad for your teeth.
- Brushing your teeth too soon after eating
If you’ve just eaten food and/or had a drink which is acidic, your tooth enamel is more vulnerable. This means it can be more easily worn off if you brush your teeth straight away, so it’s best to wait at least 15 minutes after eating or drinking so that the pH level in your mouth has a chance to get back to normal.
- Constant snacking
Snacking produces less saliva than a meal and bits of food might stay in your teeth for hours longer. So, avoid snacking too frequently and, when you do snack, choose snacks that are low in sugar and starch (carrot sticks, for example).
- Drinking soft drinks
Fizzy soft drinks can have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving. They also contain phosphoric and citric acids, which eat away at tooth enamel. Diet soft drinks may have even more acid in the form of the artificial sweeteners.
- Chewing ice
You might think ice is harmless, but crunching those frozen cubes can chip or even crack your teeth. Not to mention that it can irritate the nerve tissue inside a tooth leading to toothaches. Maybe next time you get the urge for ice, chew some sugarless gum instead.
- Sucking on cough drops
Sure, cough drops have their purpose, but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re healthy. Most are loaded with sugar so, after soothing your throat with a lozenge, be sure to brush well. The sugar reacts with the sticky plaque that coats your teeth and bacteria in the plaque then converts it into an acid that eats away at tooth enamel.
- Opening stuff with your teeth
Opening plastic packaging with your teeth may be a lot quicker than going to the utility drawer and getting the scissors, but it makes dentists cringe. The same applies to cracking open shellfish with your teeth rather than utensils. Using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip. They should be used for eating only.
- Chewing on inedible objects
Do you ever chew on your pen or pencil when deep in concentration or under stress? This is another habit that can cause teeth to chip or crack. Again, use your teeth for their primary purpose: chewing food.
Breaking bad habits
If you feel the need to chew, sugarless gum is a much better option than anything either hard or sugary, as it triggers the flow of saliva, which can make teeth stronger and protect against enamel-eating acids.
If you have a snacking “problem”, find or prepare things with the least sugar and acids. Carrots and celery are nice and crunchy, cheese and (sugar-free) yogurt contain all-important calcium, while raisins don’t contain sucrose and are a source of phytochemicals, which may kill cavity-causing plaque bacteria.
Keep in mind that it’s not only what you eat but when you eat those things that can make a difference, for example if you love sweets, have some after dinner rather than between meals.
At Middleborough Dental Care, Dr Samantha and Dr Alice are passionate about preventative dentistry. We can offer useful tips according to your needs and circumstances.
See you for your next check-up.