I know dental care isn't the most exciting topic, but healthy teeth are important and make for a lovely smile. Speaking of lovely smiles, remember the scene in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts announces that "you shouldn't neglect your gums"? With that said, let's review some common bad dental habits that can lead to health issues like gingivitis. And since nobody likes getting that disappointing look from her dentist, make the doctor proud by avoiding these habits.
- Brushing too hard or using a firm-bristled toothbrush. We all want to get that plaque off our teeth, but jamming your toothbrush back and forth with extreme intensity can permanently (as in forever) wear away the protective enamel on your teeth. It could also lead to increased tooth sensitivity and receding gums, the latter of which could require surgery. Ouch!
- Brushing side to side. I was a big horizontal brusher for years, and it was hard work to break this habit, but circular motions are the best way to clean your teeth gently yet effectively.
- Not brushing long enough. Two to three minutes is recommended.
- Not flossing daily or ever. Sorry to say, but a toothbrush only cleans the surfaces of your teeth. Using floss is the only way to clean in between your teeth, so if you don't do it daily, plaque can form and cause cavities.
- Using your teeth as tools. While your sharp incisors can help you rip open a package of trail mix, you're asking for trouble. This is a sure way to chip or crack your teeth or damage fillings.
What other bad habits are ruining your teeth and gums? To find out
- Not using a fluoride rinse. Clinical studies show that by using both a fluoride mouthwash and a fluoride toothpaste, you can provide extra protection against tooth decay more than if you use fluoride toothpaste on its own.
- Not seeing the dentist regularly. OK, so going to the dentist isn't as fun as going out for ice cream, but if you don't get your teeth cleaned and checked professionally twice a year, you're bound to end up with some serious and painful dental problems, like a root canal, that could have you sitting in the chair for hours.
- Choosing white wine. While red wine can lead to staining, the acidity in white wine wears away tooth enamel.
It's time to vent. What unhealthy habits are you guilty of when it comes to your teeth?