You may not know it, but you may be doing things that damage your teeth. These are Dr. Homann’s top 10 ways you may be harming your teeth.
#10) Using a medium or firm bristled toothbrush- If you get bird poop on your car, do you use steel wool to clean it off? No. You use soap, water, and a sponge. The same concept applies with cleaning your teeth. Hard and medium bristle toothbrushes can damage your teeth and gums. Overaggressive brushing can also cause damage. Solution: use a soft, extra-soft, or electric toothbrush and apply light pressure. You can practice “light pressure” by only holding your toothbrush with 2 fingers.
#9) Drinking coffee after you brush your teeth- Everyone has their morning routine. For many people, part of their morning routine involves brushing their teeth, and then drinking a cup of coffee shortly after. From a tooth health perspective, after cleaning your teeth, you immediately re-introduce the sugar that feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Solution: Brush after drinking your cup of coffee. If you drink your coffee at work, keep an extra toothbrush in your desk so you can have a quick brush after you finish your cup.
#8) Drinking Bottled Water- Do you enjoy paying more for a gallon of water than you do for a gallon of gas? I don’t. Even worse, most bottled water doesn’t contain Fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that helps protect against tooth decay. Many cities and towns add fluoride to their water. If your town has fluoridated water, drink water from your tap. This saves you money and helps strengthen your teeth at the same time.
#7) Rinsing instead of flossing- Many people think that rinsing with mouthwash is a good substitute for flossing because it “gets between my teeth.” Unfortunately, this isn’t true. The bacteria that cause tooth decay are sticky and cling to the areas between your teeth. Physical action is needed to remove this bacteria. This is why flossing is an absolutely necessary part of your dental home care. Remember FBI: Floss, Brush, Irrigate(rinse) as the order for cleaning your teeth.
#6) Sipping water with natural flavoring- While water with a wedge of lime or lemon is certainly an improvement over drinking a can of soda, limes and lemons still have sugar. The main problem is that people tend to sip on these drinks throughout the course of a day. Imagine rinsing with soda every 15 minutes throughout a day. Solution: Drink your flavored water in 1 sitting (less than 20 minutes) and then chew a piece of sugar free gum afterwards.
#5) Using the wrong mouthwash- This one is simple. Turn your bottle of mouthwash around and read the active ingredients. If none of the active ingredients contain fluoride, it is time to get a new mouthwash.
#4) Grinding and clenching at night- Grinding and/or clenching is a common finding in many adult patients. Often these actions are increased during times of anxiety or stress. Over time, this can lead to chipping, cracking, and wear of your teeth. Solution: Ask your dentist if they notice any evidence of a clenching or grinding. If they do, a “night guard,” which is a thin piece of custom fit acrylic, may be a great option to help protect your teeth.
#3) Opening beer bottles with your teeth- No dentist wants to get a phone call at 11PM from a patient who broke their tooth in half while trying to open a beer bottle. You don’t want to have to make that call either 🙂 The bottle opener was invented for a reason.
#2) “Flossing my own way”- While dentists understand that people are creative and like to be unique, flossing is a time to conform what is proven to work. “I floss every day” only is helpful when you are effectively cleaning in between your teeth. Creating a “C” shape with the floss in each area and then moving in an up and down motion 5 times is the most effective method of flossing. Your hygienist will be happy to work with you to maximize your flossing efficiency.
#1) “My teeth aren’t hurting me, so I don’t need to see the dentist.” – This couldn’t be further from the truth. Most tooth decay causes no sensitivity until it is very large. By the time someone could “feel” that they had a cavity, the cavity is likely already very extensive and may be affecting the health of the nerve. Regular checkups every 6 month can help detect tooth decay in its early stages. This can lead to more conservative treatment and preserving the maximum amount of healthy tooth structure.