Four Habits Your Teeth Want You to Give Up

Your teeth are right up front in your life—when you talk, smile, sing, or flirt. And much of what you do daily isn’t in their—or your—best interest. “Your teeth help you make that important first impression and you want it to be the best impression you can make,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her cosmetic dentistry office in Phoenix. “The smart choice is to do everything you can to protect them from harm,” she adds.

What kind of harm can you do to your own teeth?

These four are the top ones to avoid:

Best_Dentist1. Sugar. Tastes great, is thought to be addictive, and causes tooth decay and gum disease.  Keeping sweets on your desk, sipping sodas or sugary fruit drinks, sucking on hard candy, chewing gum are all ways to bathe your teeth in sugar all day long. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth and causes them to overgrow. That leads directly to tooth decay and gum disease. Cut down sugar to occasional treats and rinse your mouth afterwards.

2. Chomping. Chewing ice, popcorn kernels, fruit pits or chicken bones can fracture a tooth. Ice can shock a tooth and cause the enamel to crack. The force of chewing on ice can cause tiny cracks in your teeth which worsen over time. Biting on kernels or bones can weaken the root as well as the crown of your tooth.

3. Using your teeth as tools. The website WebMD lists common ways we use our teeth as tools: “Tear open a bag of potato chips, uncap a bottle of nail polish, pull out a watch stem, straighten a bent fork tine, or rip a price tag off a piece of clothing.” This strain can cause a weakened tooth to break or chip. Over time, repeated use of teeth as tools can cause serious damage. Keep real tools at hand, instead.

4. Using the wrong brush. A brush that is too hard, combined with a technique that is too vigorous will damage your tooth enamel or irritate your gums. A soft brush and a gentle touch is best.  “Gentle touch” doesn’t mean brushing your teeth for less than two minutes, though. It’s important to brush and floss them every night.

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