You may think of your teeth as hard enamel bodies with which you can crack a nut or gorge a big chunk out of a hard, green apple, and guess what you’d be right! No surprise here. But what might surprise you is how easily you can destroy your teeth. Not just that, how some of your daily habits might be subtly playing havoc with them. Here are 9 such habits that you need to give up if you don’t really want to see your teeth falling out.
1) Over Brushing Your Teeth
From an early age, we all learn that brushing your teeth is extremely important and you will lose your teeth if you don’t brush them regularly. But do you know that brushing, in some ways, could also damage your teeth? Not all toothbrushes are created equal; some can actually contribute to damage. In fact, your toothbrush should be hard enough just to remove the plaque from your teeth, but if it gets harder than that, it might wear away the enamel, make your gums swollen or even sensitize your teeth to the cold. To avoid any confusion you should always buy an ADA-approved brush.
Acid is bad for your teeth. Frequent exposure to highly acidic foods corrodes enamel, the hard outer layer of your teeth. With the enamel gone, your teeth won’t have their normal texture anymore. Plus, they won’t be able to bite as hard as they usually should. In addition to this, the eroded tooth may get very sensitive and will hurt whenever you eat something hot or cold. And finally, after all the erosion and pain, the run-down teeth could eventually fall out. So it’s important to take care of the enamel. One way is not regularly exposing your teeth to acidic foods such as lemons, oranges, strawberries and all other citrus fruits. Fruit juices and some other drinks also have a strong acid content, such as colas.
3) Gritting and Grinding Your Teeth
As innocuous as it might seem at first, gritting your teeth can actually cause micro-fractures in your teeth. These micro-fractures may gather food and bacterial masses over time. From interstitial plaque, it could become tartar. From tartar, it could infect quite a number of your teeth, and so on. Grinding your teeth could also result in misalignment of the teeth. So it’s not just a concern of losing your teeth because even if that doesn’t happen your appearance may suffer due to the misalignment of your teeth.
4) Sucking Your Thumb
Thumb sucking is not really good for children who are losing their primary teeth and are growing the permanent ones. At this stage, when the permanent teeth are coming in, thumb sucking could result in misalignment of teeth, which means your child will need braces in some point later in life. They would probably need to stay on for about a year or two to fix the misaligned teeth. Misalignment isn’t just about a bad appearance, it might also result in difficulty chewing or even breathing.
5) Chewing Ice
Some take an ice cube or a fragment of the ice cube into their mouth and start playing with it. And usually they keep trying to crush it in their mouth. Doing this once in a blue moon may not do your teeth any serious harm, but doing it often could. The thing is the outer layer of our teeth is made of enamel, a hard substance which is quite resistant to most things. But resistance, like conductivity, has an intimate connection with temperature. Something resistant at one temperature could not be so at another temperature. Forcing the enamel to crush the cold ice puts extra pressure on its chemical bonding, which doesn’t respond very nicely to this external pressure. This could lead to rapid tearing in the enamel coating, which could in turn lead to all the problems mentioned earlier.
6) Biting on Hard Objects
We have all seen people who stick their pens, pencils or glasses into their mouth, start biting them hard while thinking of something else. If you are thinking with the pencil in your teeth, it probably won’t help you in any way to solve the problem at hand and on the contrary, it might well give you one. Since you are not focusing on the pencil and your teeth when you are thinking hard about something, there’s all the likelihood that you might press your teeth hard against the object. And pressing your teeth hard against a non-food item is not very teeth-friendly. We have teeth that have biologically evolved and adapted to penetrate soft or semi-solid foods. There’s a reason we can’t eat bones, but tigers can: Our teeth are not adapted for it, and so are they not for pencils. Using teeth against a substance harder than appropriate for their capacity puts extra pressure on them, which may cause them to break.
7) Biting Your Nails
It’s a nervous habit and many of us do it. The teeth grab hold of those protruding mass of dead cells called nails. They sandwich it between themselves, grinding the nail between them, peeling it off. The outer edge of incisors rubbing, fighting against the nails. The nails showing their resistance by scratching the edges of the incisors, only to see themselves ultimately cut off and lying on the floor. In the process, you have scratched the edges of your incisors. And they take a long, long time to recover, and most probably you’ll scratch them again before they get a chance to do so. Very soon the indentation will become noticeable and then you will wish you hadn’t ever tried biting them in the first place, but it would be too late by then.
8) Using Your Teeth as a Tool
Ask any dentist and he’ll tell you one thing: people who don’t stop using their teeth as a tool ultimately lose a couple of teeth when the object they are trying to hold with them slips through. And most of the time, it happens to be a hard, solid object. As it slips, it abrades against the teeth, tearing the enamel coating at the minimum, taking out the whole tooth quite often. It might appear to be convenient at first when you can’t seem to find the right tool, but trust the dentists who say that this difficulty is nothing as compared to the hard time you’ll have when you are trying to get a few new teeth fixed into your mouth.
9) Eating Sweets
Now that you understand the role of acidulous substances in damaging your teeth, it’s time to turn to sugar, an equally culpable accomplice. The relationship of sugar, acid and destruction of your teeth is intricate. When you consume sugary food, some of the sugar is consumed by the acid-producing bacteria on your teeth. As they consume more and more sugar, the bacteria grow more and more healthy. The healthier they get, the more acid they produce. In other words, sugar is the fuel for these acid-manufacturing factories and we know that acid destroys your teeth. Now that you understand the role of sugar there’s one small distinction here: sugar-content found in fresh fruits don’t usually feed these bacteria so eating fresh fruits will not harm your teeth. Just remember dried fruits, such as raisins, are not fresh fruits.