Good oral hygiene habits are essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Unfortunately, some bad habits can lead to tooth decay, periodontal disease (gum disease), and other dental problems. This article will explore the four worst habits that can damage your teeth — and offer tips on breaking them.
Smoking is one of the most damaging things you can do to your teeth. Not only does smoking cause staining, discoloration, and yellowing of the enamel, but it also increases your risk of developing gum disease and oral cancer. Smokers are four times more likely than non-smokers to develop periodontitis (severe gum disease), and their risk of oral cancer increases by eight times. Quitting smoking is the best way to protect your teeth from damage.
In addition to the oral health risks associated with smoking, it can lead to several other serious health problems. Studies have shown that smokers are more likely than non-smokers to suffer from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking can also increase your risk of developing kidney disease, blood clots, and other vascular diseases. Furthermore, smoking has been linked to infertility in both men and women, an increased risk of miscarriage, and premature birth.
Fortunately, it is never too late to decide to quit smoking. Your oral health will improve almost immediately after you stop using tobacco products. Your risk of developing gum disease and oral cancer will decrease drastically, and your teeth will whiten over time. Furthermore, you will reduce your chances of developing other serious health issues.
2. Eating Too Much Sugar
Eating too much sugar can lead to tooth decay and cavities, especially when combined with poor oral hygiene habits. Bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar, producing an acid that erodes the protective enamel layer on your teeth. To reduce your risk of decay, limit sugary foods and drinks — and brush twice a day, and floss daily.
In addition to increasing your risk of cavities and tooth decay, eating too much sugar can also contribute to weight gain. Excess calories from sugary foods and drinks are stored as fat in the body, leading to an unhealthy increase in body mass index (BMI). Obesity is linked to several serious health issues, including Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
Too much sugar can also harm your mental health. Studies show that excess sugar consumption is linked to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Consuming an excessive amount of sweetened foods can lead to a crash in energy levels, affecting the ability to concentrate and perform daily tasks.
3. Not Brushing or Flossing Regularly
Brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day is essential for keeping your teeth clean and healthy. Plaque and tartar build-up can lead to decay, gum disease, and bad breath — so make sure you brush twice a day and floss at least once a day.
If you’re not brushing and flossing regularly, plaque will likely begin forming on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria and food particles that can lead to tooth decay. The best way to prevent it from building up is by brushing at least twice daily and flossing once daily. Not brushing and flossing regularly can also cause tartar to form, which is even harder to remove than plaque. If tartar builds up on your teeth, it’s best to see a dentist for professional cleaning.
Visiting an orthodontist can safely and effectively remove the tartar from your teeth and advise on how to prevent it from returning. If you’re unsure of the best way to brush or floss your teeth, you can ask your dentist for advice on the proper technique. A professional dental cleaning every six months is also recommended to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Your orthodontist can check for any signs of decay or gum disease and provide the proper treatment if necessary.
4. Chewing On Hard Objects
Chewing on hard objects such as pens or ice cubes can cause chips and cracks in the enamel of your teeth — leading to sensitivity, pain, and an increased risk of decay. It’s best to avoid chewing on hard objects altogether or be sure to use sugar-free gum instead.
This bad habit can also cause TMJ disorders. TMJ disorder, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is characterized by pain and discomfort in the jaw joints and muscles that control chewing. It can also cause issues such as popping of the joint, locking of the jaw, headaches, and facial pain. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s best to see your dentist or doctor as soon as possible.
Chewing on hard objects can also lead to more serious dental problems, such as gum disease and periodontal disease. Gum disease is an inflammatory condition that causes the gums to become red, swollen, and sometimes painful. Periodontal disease occurs when the gum disease progresses to an advanced stage and is characterized by rapid loss of the tissues that hold your teeth in place.
To Wrap It Up
Taking care of your teeth is essential for keeping them healthy and strong. Avoiding these four bad habits that damage your teeth will help keep your oral health in tip-top shape — so make sure to practice good oral hygiene and steer clear of the above habits! With a little effort, you can protect and preserve your smile for years to come.