Sunday, December 30, 2012

Everyday Habits That Damage Your Teeth

A recent article in the WebMD Magazine reviewed the damaging effects that certain habits may have on your teeth. Most people do not give much thought to the negative impact that certain foods or beverages can have on their pearly whites. According to the article, 25% of U.S. adults over the age of 65 have lost all their teeth.  Here is how to not lose your teeth!
We should now all know that sugar is the No. 1 enemy of your teeth, and the longer it stays in your mouth, the worse it is. Sugar is consumed by acid-producing bacteria in your mouth. The acids eat away at tooth enamel. Avoid foods like jelly candies, which stick in your teeth longer than other foods and bathe them in sugar. Dried fruit such as raisins are no better. Reach for fresh fruit instead.


Beverages and Teeth

Soda is just plain bad for teeth, sugar-free or not since you are creating an acidic environment in your mouth. Your teeth do not like acid!  Club soda is harmful, too, also because of its acidity, and so are juices with added sugar.

Alcohol, even just a glass of wine, is also acidic and can erode the teeth. In addition, alcohol dries out your mouth, reducing saliva production. Saliva has a protective function which lowers the risk of decay caused by bacterial acids. Always rinse your mouth with water between drinks to lower the risk of acid attacks.

Other Risks to Teeth

If you use your teeth to snap off bottle caps, remove clothing tags, or open plastic bags, stop immediately. Smokers should also consider how the habit affects oral health. Nicotine yellows teeth and can also cause oral cancer. Chewing tobacco is even worse because the tobacco and associated carcinogens come into direct contact with the gums and soft tissues and stay there for a long time.

Also, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medicines might cause dry mouth. According to the American Dental Association, more than 500 medications -- from pain relievers to antihistamines -- can do so. Dry mouth inhibits saliva production and increases your risk of cavities.

If you play contact sports, pick up a mouth guard at a sports store or have your dentist make you a custom one for maximum protection and comfort. You don't even have to be awake to damage your teeth. Approximately 8% of Americans grind or clench their teeth, especially at night. If this is you, make an appointment with your dentist right away.

Reference: Georgie Binks, WebMD the Magazine - Feature