Having healthy teeth isn’t just important for the way you look. It’s important for your overall health too. Inflammation and bacterial growth associated with cavities and gum disease have been associated with other health issues, like heart disease, stroke, and respiratory diseases. And of course, cavities, chips, cracks, and other oral health problems can have a big bearing on how you eat and how you feel about your appearance. With so much depending on your oral health, it just makes sense to do all you can to maintain healthy teeth and gums — and that means taking a close look at some of your habits.
5 habits that can affect your oral health
Some habits, like regular brushing and flossing and routine dental checkups, are obviously good for your oral health. But other habits — including not-so-obvious ones — could actually be bad for your teeth and gums. Here are five to watch out for.
1. Brushing too vigorously — or too often
Careful brushing is important for getting rid of food particles, plaque, and disease-causing bacteria. But if you brush too often or too hard, you could be damaging the protective layer of enamel that protects against germs, or you could irritate your gums and increase your risk of gum disease. For best results, brush twice a day — typically in the morning and before bed — and use gentle strokes, holding your brush with the bristles angled slightly away from the gums. Always use a soft-bristled brush. If you’re not sure your brushing technique is up to par, ask your hygienist to demonstrate the proper technique at your next office visit.
2. Chewing on ice
Ice and other hard foods can damage your tooth enamel, and if you do it too often, you could wind up chipping, cracking, or breaking a tooth. Even a tiny crack or chip can let decay-causing bacteria into your tooth, which means you’re much more likely to develop a cavity or infection deep inside the tooth.
3. Using your teeth as tools
It may be tempting to pry off a lid or use your teeth as pliers to twist open a container — but don’t do it. Teeth are designed for biting and chewing. The force associated with prying and twisting can weaken tooth roots or crack or break your teeth, which means you could be looking at a very costly repair (not to mention a lot of discomfort).
4. Drinking lots of energy drinks
Energy drinks have soared in popularity in recent years, providing a jolt of caffeine that can keep you alert and awake long after you should be in bed. But caffeine isn’t all these drinks deliver. They’re also full of sugar, a major food source for decay-causing bacteria. What’s more, the caffeine in these drinks acts as a diuretic, making your mouth drier than usual. When you have less saliva, the sugary residue has an even better chance of clinging to your tooth surfaces. Instead, opt for water, or if you must indulge, rinse with water afterward.
5. Letting a grinding problem go untreated
Tooth grinding (or bruxism) is a relatively common problem, and without treatment, it can quickly wear away your enamel and cause other problems, like cracks, chips, and weak tooth roots. Since lots of us grind our teeth while we sleep, you may not even know you have bruxism. Fortunately, Dr. Eckford is skilled in identifying the subtle signs of grinding, so he can make sure you get treatment as early as possible. Most people who grind their teeth benefit from wearing a nighttime mouth guard, designed to cushion your teeth so damage is prevented.
Learn what you can do to keep your teeth and gums in top shape
At Houston Precise Dental Care, we want every patient to enjoy the best possible oral health at every age. Dr. Eckford and the entire team are committed to providing top-quality care using state-of-the-art technology and techniques, so you can feel confident in your care every step of the way. To learn what you can do to improve your oral health or to schedule a checkup and cleaning, book an appointment online today.