We all have nasty habits that can damage our teeth. Some are fairly obvious, like chewing on ice, grinding our teeth (either while awake or asleep), or chewing hard candy, but some are more subtle. Here are a few things you may be doing that could send you to the dentist more often than necessary.
Tongue piercings may be all the rage, but accidentally biting down on the metal stud can chip or crack your teeth. WebMD notes that oral piercings — especially long-stem tongue jewelry (barbells) – can increase your risk of gum disease. The jewelry can not only injure gums via direct contact but can recede gum tissue, which can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss. Lip piercings can be just as risky. And since the mouth is a bacteria rich environment, piercings can contribute to infections and sores.
They may soothe your throat and reduce your impulse to cough, but these little suckers are packed with sugar. The sugar reacts with the sticky plaque that coats your teeth. And the bacteria in the plaque turn the sugar into an acid that eats away at tooth enamel. Even so-called “sugar-free” cough drops sweetened with sorbitol can demineralize dental enamel, as noted in this Open Dentistry Journal.
Usually the result of stress or poor sleep patterns, this nasty habit can wear down the enamel that protects your teeth. Wearing a mouth guard at night can at least limit the damage while you sleep. Some people have resorted to chewing gum to keep their mouths busy during stressful periods of the day.
Sodas & Fruit Drinks
Most sodas and many fruit drinks are packed with sugar. Read the fine print on the label: the sugar content you see is “per serving.” So when you down that bottle of POM, for example, you’re exposing your teeth to 17 teaspoons of sugar! Many sodas and fruit drinks (including sugar-free diet drinks) also contain phosphoric acid, citric acid and tartaric acid that can damage teeth. As noted in a recent Parkview Dentistry article, Matthew M. Rodgers, DDS; and J. Anthony von Fraunhofer, PhD, FADM, FRSC, researchers at the University of Michigan, compared the eroding effects of regular sodas and diet sodas on teeth and found very little difference.
Red & White Wines
As noted in a recent issue of Health, red wine contains chromogens that can discolor teeth pigments. And the tannins in red wine can dry out your mouth to make teeth sticky, which adds to wine’s staining power. White wine can also stain teeth, since like red wine, it contains erosive acid, which enable stains from other foods or drinks to go deeper into your teeth.
Crackers & Potato Chips
These innocuous little snacks contain lots of starch and refined carbohydrates, which convert to sugar in the mouth. The paste they leave in your mouth builds up in your molars and lodges between teeth. This creates an ideal breeding ground for cavity-forming bacteria, notes Health.