Well it’s that time of the year when we all make resolutions. This year, make the resolution to care for your teeth, you’ll be happy you did!
1. Chewing on ice. It may be natural and sugar free, so you may think ice is harmless, but if you tend to chew on the cubes once you’ve finished a beverage, they can cause damage, and may even chip or crack your teeth.
2. Cough medicines and cough drops. Cough medicine contains sugar, and since it’s often taken after people brush just before they go to bed, it can cause tooth erosion and decay. In addition, cough drops are loaded with sugar. So after soothing you throat with a lozenge or cough medicine be sure to brush well.
3. Soda (even diet). Most of your favorite sugary sodas contain phosphoric and citric acids that can weaken tooth enamel, even diet soda. Sodas can have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Diet soft drinks let you skip the sugar, but they may have even more acid in the form of the artificial sweeteners. If you can’t resist a soda, drink through a straw to limit soda’s contact with your teeth.
4. Opening things with your teeth. How often do you open bottle caps or plastic packaging with your teeth just because it’s more convenient? This is a habit that makes most dentists cringe. Using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip. Remember your teeth should only be used for eating.
5. Breath mints. Your teeth might feel cleaner after you pop a mint in your mouth, but sucking on breath mints is like soaking your teeth in sugar. Always choose sugar-free, and if available, choose mints sweetened with xylitol, which helps to combat bacteria associated with tooth decay.
6. Grinding Teeth. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can wear teeth down overtime. It is most often caused by stress and sleeping habits. This makes it hard to control. Avoiding hard foods during the day can reduce pain and damage from this habit. Wearing a mouth guard at night can prevent grinding while sleeping.
7. Potato Chips and crackers. They taste light, but the texture of potato chips and crackers means that they linger in your mouth. When chip and cracker particles get stuck or become mushy when chewed, they tend to get lodged between teeth, where acid-producing bacteria attack your teeth and put you at risk of tooth decay. And since most people can’t eat just one chip, that means a non-stop period of acid production. Always remember to floss after eating potato chips, crackers, or other starchy foods that tend to get stuck in your teeth.
8. Tongue Piercings. Tongue piercings may be trendy, but biting down on the metal stud can crack a tooth. Lip piercings pose a similar risk. And when metal rubs against the gums, it can cause gum damager that may lead to tooth loss. The mouth is also a haven for bacteria, so piercings raise the risk of infections and sores.
9. Lemonade and sports/energy drinks can damage the protective enamel on your teeth. Citrus fruits and juices—a rich source of vitamin C and other nutrients—are good for you in many ways, but not when it comes to your teeth. Lemonade is a destructive combination of acid and sugar that leads to tooth decay and cavities. Even adding lemon slices to water can be danger, because of the acidity it adds.
10. Foods with a lot of color, such as blueberries, soy sauce, cranberries and cherries can stain your teeth. That means that not only fruits, but also beverages made from these fruits can cause your teeth to become discolored. Red wine, which contains substances known as chromogens that produce tooth-discoloring pigments. Also, the tannins in red wine tend to dry out the mouth and make teeth sticky, worsening stains. White wine can cause even more damage than red wine because it is generally more acidic than red wine. Reds and whites both contain erosive acid, allowing stains from other foods or drinks to penetrate more deeply. Rinsing with water shortly after consuming this foods and beverages, or using toothpaste with a mild whitening can fight their staining effects.
11. Dark drinks such as coffee, tea, can stain your teeth. Coffee’s dark color and acidity can cause yellowing of the teeth over time. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest stains to treat with various whitening methods. Talk to your dentist if your concerned about discoloration of your teeth. Black tea is a better option than tea, but the tannins in tea can also cause stains. Green or herbal varieties are your best option.
12. Hard candies such as Jolly Ranchers don’t cling to your teeth as readily as chewy candy, but they have their own downside. Unlike, chocolate-based sweets, which are chewed quickly and wash away relatively easily, hard candy dissolves slowly and saturates your mouth for several minutes at a time, giving bacteria more time to produce harmful acid. In addition, if you bite down wrong on some hard candies, they can chip your teeth—something no amount of brushing or flossing can repair.
13. Bedtime Bottles. It’s never too early to protect teeth. Giving a baby a bedtime bottle of juice, milk, or formula can put new teeth on a part to decay. The baby may become used to falling asleep with the bottle in his or her mouth, causing sugars to stay on their teeth overnight. It’s best to keep bottles out of the crib.
14. Playing sports with no mouth guard. Weather you play football, baseball, basketball, soccer, or any other contact sport, don’t get in the same without a mouth guard. Without it, your teeth could get chipped or even knocked out. Ask your dentists about the different types of mouth guards and which one is best for you.
Prevention is the best medicine for your smile.
Although fillings, crowns, and professional whitening can make your teeth stronger and brighter, it’s always better to avoid cavities and stains in the first place, by brushing, flossing, wearing protective guards, and — last but not least—eating right!
Good luck with all your resolutions this year, and remember to call your dentist or orthodontist to schedule a consultation for all your specific dental needs.