Dentists are always filling your head with ways to improve your oral health, like my blog last week. Instead, here are 10 things that you should absolutely never, ever do! The top 10 ways to RUIN your teeth:
1. Use your teeth as tools. Cutting string, opening bottles, and ripping open bags with your teeth may seem like the easiest way to get the task done but is really very harmful to your teeth. This can crack or break your teeth, and over time can even wear them down. Save yourself the emergency dentist visit (and bill!) and use a pair of scissors instead.
2. Skip regular cleanings with your dentist. Ideally, you should visit your dentist every 6 months to get your teeth cleaned. When your dentist cleans your teeth he removes plaque buildup. Plaque that is left untouched will harden and turn into tartar, creating more problems that are harder to deal with in the long run.
3. Use mouthwash as a replacement for brushing and flossing. Jessica Simpson is infamous for claiming that she never brushes her teeth and only uses Listerine to clean her mouth. This is a terrible, not to mention disgusting, idea. The physical pressure you use when brushing and flossing are essential to removing plaque and embedded materials. Mouthwash can even mask odors in your mouth that indicate serious problems, allowing those problems to get much worse before they are detected.
4. Chew on ice. Chewing on ice cubes is a great way to crack and break your teeth and can even damage the soft tissue inside your teeth which can cause painful toothaches. Chewing on ice can also be a sign of an iron deficiency, so if you habitually chew ice see your doctor.
5. Eat chips and soda. The sugars in soda, and all sugary drinks like gatorade, sweet tea, and fruit juices, react with the bacteria in the plaque on your teeth causing cavities. This bacteria, when mixed with the starch in potato chips, create an acid that will attack your teeth for up to 20minutes after you're finished eating. Avoid these foods, but if you must indulge, chew a piece of sugar-free gum immediately after.
6. Swim in a pool every day. The chemicals in swimming pools mix with saliva to create brown stains on your front teeth. Those who swim more than six hours a week are prone to these stains which are commonly called "swimmer's calculus".
7. Take cough syrup before bed. Many cough syrups, like NyQuil, contain ingredients that cause tooth decay and erosion. When you drink cough syrup immediately before bedtime, these ingredients sit on your teeth all night long and ruin the enamel. Cough syrups often contain alcohol, which dries out your mouth and makes your teeth more susceptible to decay. Take cough syrup before you brush your teeth at night or even with a meal if possible.
8. Only drink bottled water. Unlike tap water, bottled water (unless fluoride is indicated as an additive on the bottle) rarely contains the fluoride necessary to making your teeth resistant to decay. Studies have shown that the most effective source of fluoride is water fluoridation, so drink from the tap!
9. Pierce your tongue. Tongue rings are notorious for chipping and cracking your teeth. Even after broken teeth have been fixed a tongue piercing will continue to cause damage until it is removed.
10. Grind your teeth. Grinding your teeth can cause jaw pain, sensitivity, and can even change the appearance of your face. Over time, grinding can wear away tooth enamel and chip your teeth.