Do you remember your first trip to the dentist? Hopefully, there weren't too many tears, either by you or the dentist. When all was said and done, you walked out with a brand new tube of toothpaste, a crisp new toothbrush, and perhaps a toy or two, with a sticker to remind you to brush and floss your way to success. And you've done your duty, right? You brush, floss, rinse, and don’t steal too much of the kids’ Halloween candy. So, your teeth should be pretty much perfect right? Right.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that there are simply things we cannot plan on. When we left the dentist that first time, clutching the dental prize bag, your path for perfect teeth was stretched out before you. And yet, we have to buy that whitening teeth kit and are surprised by cavities, cracks, and spots. We know the standard enemies to teeth, but there might be something else happening. What can be sneaking up on your teeth? A few surprising culprits are doing unexpected damage:
Chew Food. . . use the Screwdriver for the Other Stuff
The human body is a wonderful thing, with our different parts functioning in hundreds of creative ways, but, our teeth have just one straightforward purpose: chewing food. That's it. They are not designed to open jars, loosen lids, or bite nails. Ever try to use a hammer as a screwdriver? How did that work for you? Using teeth for things besides chewing food has real potential for harm. So, break out the bottle opener and save your teeth for apples--which are actually excellent for your teeth.
P.S. There is a fuzzy area here with ice. Yes, it is "sort of" food. But, don't let it trick you--it is not meant to be chewed, even if it is the “good” kind of ice. (I know you know what we mean) Pieces of ice can act like shards or knives if lodged into your gums by mistake while chewing, severing nerves which run all over your mouth, especially at the tips, which could be especially hazardous. Ice will weaken enamel and cause cracks and pain down the road, so chill with the chewing--see what we did there.
Skip the Sticky Stuff
Sugar-free gum can actually be helpful for teeth, but that is as sticky as it should get. Other sticky foods, such as taffy, gummy vitamins, and dried fruit, can gum up your teeth and are hard to remove. If you do indulge in the sticky foods, try to chase them with water as soon as possible. Water is wonderful for avoiding lasting damage to your teeth.
While we are on the subject of fruit, be aware that while fruit has wonderful health benefits, it is also high in sugar and acid. A delicious smoothie is chock full of both vitamins AND sugar. Again, drinking plenty of water will rinse it clean and avoid the damage that the fruit sugars can do.
Teacups, Mugs, and Long-Stemmed Glasses
Water is wonderful, but you probably want to drink other things from time to time. Some of the other options can cause staining on your teeth. Tea, coffee, and wine can stain teeth over time, and some of these beverages can be highly acidic, which is dangerous to that precious enamel. Another side effect of alcohol is that it reduces the flow of saliva to your mouth. Saliva is how our body rinses out debris, so less saliva can mean more cavities.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Believe it or not, you can overdo it on brushing and flossing. Brushing your teeth too hard with stiff bristles can wear down the protective enamel. Flossing vigorously can damage & make your gums bleed. You are meant to brush your teeth after you eat, drink, or smoke, but obviously that’s not feasible all the time. If you can drink some water and rinse your mouth with, that will take away some of the surface food particles and prevent staining. Chewing sugarless gum stimulates the saliva, which acts as a buffer for your teeth. Rushing in round small circles and holding the bristles at a forty-five degrees angle is recommended. Ask your dentist what that looks like as they will be happy to help you. Excessive use of the mouthwash can also cause staining, so check in with your dentist on this one as well.
Ounce of Prevention
These substances can sneak up on you, but the best defense is a good offense. Regular visits to your dentist will go a long way in undoing the damage. A check-up can spot troubles and a thorough cleaning will remove residue. Our professional whitening system can help remove any stains from the food and drink you love.
Brush, Floss, Rinse. . . and Keep the Toy.
Perhaps it has been a while since that first dentist's visit. The toys have changed, the toothbrushes have new colors, and the stickers are updated, but the tools in the bag are still plenty helpful. Regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing will go a long way in keeping those pearly whites healthy and strong. Being aware of the sneaky enemies will also go a long way. Watch out for the sticky and sweet stuff, keep a water bottle on hand, and use the bottle opener. We will be ready with the shiny star stickers. You just keep smiling.