It’s scary but true: you could be damaging your dental health without even knowing it. At National Dental Care Mt Isa, we see dozens of patients who have accidentally damaged their teeth or caused dental problems by seemingly harmless activities. Here are the top 10 ‘no no’s when it comes to your teeth.
Bad habit 1: Grinding teeth
Many people grind or clench their teeth when they sleep; it’s known as bruxism and can be caused by stress and by sleep-disordered breathing (e.g. sleep apnoea). At night, clenching and grinding is difficult to control. It is important to investigate possible deeper causes before any treatment (e.g. in a sleep study). If you don’t have severe sleep apnoea, a night-time tooth guard (splint or ‘night guard’) or snoring device may be appropriate and can be fitted by your National Dental Care Mt Isa dentist.
Clenching and grinding can result in broken, chipped or fractured teeth and require crowns or the replacement of teeth with dental implants. Over time, it can also lead to muscle and joint dysfunction and chronic facial pain.
If you find yourself clenching or grinding your teeth during the day try relaxation exercises (or mindfulness meditation) and make a conscious effort to keep your teeth slightly apart when at rest.
Bad habit 2: Thumb sucking
If your child is still sucking their thumb when their permanent teeth start coming through (usually around five or six), they could be causing permanent changes to both their tooth and jaw structure. Thumb sucking is often the cause of tooth misalignment, and can lead to further issues such as problems chewing and speaking. Serious misalignment may also require orthodontic work later.
There are a few ways your dentist can help your little one stop the thumb-sucking habit, so make sure you talk to your National Dental Care Mount Isa dentist about it.
Bad habit 3: Smoking
Smoking not only discolours and stains your teeth, it can also cause gum disease, reduce your sense of taste and smell, cause bad breath and put you at risk of oral cancer.
There are lots of great quitting products now available in Australia, so talk to your doctor and dentist about the best ways to quit.
Bad habit 4: Forgetting to floss
Failing to floss can cause serious damage to your health. Regular flossing (at least three times a week) helps remove plaque build-up from hard to reach surfaces of your teeth, dislodges trapped food particles stuck between teeth and helps keep gums strong and healthy.
Bad habit 5: Taking multiple medications
Many types of medication can cause dry mouth, and when your mouth lacks moisture (saliva) your teeth may become more vulnerable to acid attacks and erosion of enamel, gum disease and cavities. Your mouth can also become uncomfortable when dry.
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about whether dry mouth is a side affect of your medications and whether you need topical supplements or a dry mouth relief solution.
Bad habit 6: Swallowing the pool water
If you regularly swim in chlorinated pools, the chemicals and chlorine may be have a corrosive effect on your tooth enamel. Try to avoid getting pool water in your mouth and talk to your Mount Isa dentist about how your can counteract the damaging effects of acidic pool water.
Bad habit 7: Heartburn horrors
If you suffer from heartburn, reflux or find yourself vomiting frequently, you may be exposing your teeth to excessive amounts of digestive acids. This can damage your dental enamel, leading to excessive wear and sensitivity. Avoid brushing immediately after vomiting and try to neutralise the acid with some water or bicarbonate soda solution first. If this is an ongoing problem e.g. in pregnancy, your dentist can recommend some topical supplements to help protect you from damaging effects of the acid. Ongoing reflux should always be investigated and treated by your medical GP as reflux can either lead to or be a sign of serious health problems.
Bad habit 8: Chewing ice cubes
Biting or chewing on ice can crack, break or chip your teeth, and could lead to you needing a filling or a crown. If you’re an ice lover, we recommending sucking the cubes rather than biting them.
Bad habit 9: Loving lemons
If you love lemons (and other highly acidic foods), you may be damaging your tooth enamel, as acidic substances cause erosion, creating a rough texture on the surface of the teeth, making your teeth appear darker and causing sensitivity of the exposed deeper layers of the tooth. Heavy erosion may result in the need for tooth replacements, rebuilding or veneers.
Bad habit 10: Brushing too hard
Brushing too vigorously or too hard can do more harm than good, leading to enamel abrasion, irritated gums and tooth sensitivity. Use a softer brush and a softer touch!
Change your ways and improve your dental health
We know it’s hard to break bad habits, but if you can try to mend your ways, you’ll give your dental and overall health a huge boost! Talk to your National Dental Care Mt Isa dentist if you’re worried that you have one, or more, of the habits above.