Your teeth and gums are capable of lasting your entire life if you treat them right. But it’s all too easy to fall into bad dental habits that mar or destroy your smile. And you may not even be aware of the damage you are doing. Read on to learn about five behaviors that are best left in the past.
One habit you should definitely embrace is visiting Uptown Dental Associates every six months. Our thorough cleanings and exams will remove built-up plaque and tartar and detect problems very early on. To request an appointment at our Albuquerque, NM office, call 505-407-8781.
This one is obvious, but it’s worth repeating again. Smoking, and other tobacco products, are terrible for your health. They cause cancer, lung disease, and all sorts of major problems. And they are bad for your teeth and gums. Here are just a few ways your cigarette habit may affect your mouth.
- Cigarettes dull your senses of taste and smell and stain your teeth yellow.
- Tobacco use is a leading risk factor for gum disease, and smokers’ disease tends to be resistant to treatment. Smokers are more likely than other people to lose teeth from gum disease.
- Smokers tend to heal more slowly from oral surgery and have a higher dental implant failure rate than non-tobacco-users.
- Smoking increases your risk for developing oral cancer.
We understand that quitting is extremely difficult. Here are a few tips and resources from the American Dental Association to help you out.
Don’t Grind Your Teeth
Teeth clenching and grinding, or bruxism, is a common habit often borne out of stress. Many people grind their teeth at night without even realizing it. But this behavior can have serious consequences on your dental health.
Bruxism may wear down your tooth enamel and injure your gum tissue. This puts you at risk for sensitivity, decay, periodontal disease, and gum recession. You may also begin to experience problems with your TMJ, which can manifest in a number of ways, from jaw pain to migraines to facial muscle soreness.
Practicing relaxation techniques or engaging in other activities that ease your tension may help. At Uptown Dental Associates, we can make a custom mouthguard that prevents you from grinding your teeth as you sleep. We also offer Botox and massage therapy to help with TMJ pain.
Don’t Brush Too Hard
While we don’t want you to be lackadaisical about your oral hygiene, it is possible to be overzealous — if that enthusiasm causes you to brush too hard. You should be thorough but gentle with your toothbrush. Don’t scrub, as that may rub off the enamel, cause sensitivity, and make you susceptible to cavities. Vigorous brushing may also damage the gums, causing them to recede.
In addition to a light hand, be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and change it out every few months or whenever the bristles begin to fray.
Don’t Bite Things You Shouldn’t
We’ve all done it. Some of us may be chronic nail biters, some of us may love crunching on ice, some of us may be prone to using our teeth to open packages or tear tags off clothing. Regardless, it’s never a good idea to chew, chomp, or bite on objects that are not food.
This is an excellent way to land yourself in a dental emergency situation. Teeth, while tough, are not designed to chew on hard, non-edible objects. You may break, chip, or crack a tooth or injure the soft tissues of your mouth. You may also transfer harmful bacteria from the object to your mouth — and vice versa.
Don’t Snack Throughout the Day
Did you know that not only does what you eat matter, but how you eat counts too? That’s right. It’s best to stick to distinct meals and avoid snacking throughout the day. Every time you eat, bacteria begin to proliferate and launch damaging acid attacks against your enamel. If you keep your food consumption to three mealtimes, you will be subjecting your teeth to basically three acid attacks.
If, however, you snack all day long (we know you keep that bag of pretzels in your desk), a nasty film of bacteria forms over your teeth, subjecting them to a constant barrage of acid attacks.
If you must snack, avoid bacteria-friendly sugar and carbs, and opt for a healthy choice like an apple, unsweetened yogurt, carrots with hummus, or a cheese stick.
Banish these bad dental habits, and you will be on your way to a lifetime of good oral health. To schedule a checkup with Uptown Dental Associates of Albuquerque, NM, call 505-407-8781 or fill out our handy online contact form.