We all know brushing after meals and before bed is good and drinking soda all day and snacking on candy is bad. But there are other harmful things many of us do on a regular basis without even realizing how bad they can be for our teeth and gums. Below are four you may not have heard of before.
1. Using Your Teeth As Tools
Can you twist a bottle cap off with your teeth? Impressive as it may be, it’s probably not the smartest thing you can do. At least if you want to keep all your teeth. Besides the very real potential of cracking or chipping a tooth, it’s even possible to get a nasty laceration if the bottle breaks. Plus, scratching the enamel with a bottle cap provides a perfect spot for bacteria in your mouth to start decaying your tooth.
While most of us don’t open bottles with our teeth, we do use them for the occasional bag of chips that just won’t open on the tear strip or to sever the plastic thread holding a price tag to clothing. Don’t do it! Repeated use of your teeth for opening things or even for just routinely holding things (like nails) causes wear on the tooth and can even lead to jaw alignment problems.
Remember: They’re teeth, not tools.
2. Ring and Stud Piercings in and Around the Mouth
A piercing of the tongue, lip, or cheek may get you in with the in-crowd, but it’s definitely not the best way to keep your teeth in your mouth.
Get this: a growing number of dentists around the world have warned that piercings and tongue studs can cause chronic injury to nearby teeth, including fractures and receding gum lines—a precursor to tooth loss.
There is also the risk of accidentally biting a piercing, which can crack or even break a tooth (particularly one already weakened by a filling). Just playing with a tongue piercing by moving the tongue around and clacking the stud against teeth can easily crack or chip a tooth.
We couldn’t end this without saying one good thing about lip and tongue piercings, so here goes: It’s easy to have them removed!
3. Bleaching Your Teeth
Tooth whitening products have become wildly popular, both the over-the-counter variety and the kind you get in a dental office. The lure of pearly whites has led many to repeated use of whitening products to maintain a gleam. The problem is no one knows how much whitening is too much.
All too often, people make tooth whitening a regular thing. Many dentists and researchers are convinced excessive use of whitening products causes both pitting in teeth and damage to the nerves. Our advice: If you use a tooth whitener, don’t use it in a never-ending obsession to have perfectly white teeth—and definitely stop if it irritates your gums or causes tooth pain.
4. Brushing Right After Consuming Acidic Foods or Drinks
You may know acidic foods and drinks soften the enamel of teeth, which can lead to tooth decay. While it may seem like a good idea to brush right after drinking or eating anything acidic, it’s actually a terrible idea. The abrasive action of a toothbrush on the softened enamel can easily damage your enamel. Instead, try swishing some water around in your mouth. After a half-hour, it’s ok to brush.
Regular Dental Checkups—You Are Getting Them, Right?
Having your teeth cleaned and checked over by a dentist on a regular basis (at least once per year) is essential to good dental health. Besides getting the nasty layer of bacteria on your teeth (AKA “plaque”) cleaned off, your gums will be checked over for any signs of gum disease and your mouth inspected for signs of oral cancer. And, of course, the dentist will assess your teeth for any potential problems.
It’s pretty safe to say only a small percentage of us ever actually look into our own mouths with a mirror and a flashlight. Even if we did, it’s unlikely we’d be able to spot problems. Can you see a crack on the back of one of your rear molars? Do you monitor your gum line for signs of recession? Would you be able to recognize the early signs of oral cancer? Of course not. This is precisely why it’s important to have a dentist.
If you don’t go to the dentist because you can’t afford insurance, or it’s not available through your employer, Momentum Insurance Plans can help. We offer quality, affordably priced dental plans for individuals, families and groups throughout Wisconsin.
You can enroll in a Momentum Insurance Plan online in just a few minutes. With no waiting period for preventive and diagnostic coverage, you’re free to set up your first appointment any time after coverage takes effect.