Maintaining a healthy set of teeth does not stop in proper dental hygiene. It needs a lifetime of routine care to prevent damage. A strong covering called enamel protects our teeth, which is the hardest tissue of the body. To put the importance and hardness of enamel in perspective, it has a hardness score of five on the Mohs scale, comparable to apatite and stainless steel (5-5.5 Mohs). However, this hard covering can still be damaged by unhealthy oral habits and practices that you are unwittingly doing. It is critical to know what oral practices are damaging your teeth and how they compromise your oral health.
Here are some oral practices that are damaging to teeth:
The three main reasons why you continue to have cavities are lifestyle, diseases and bacterial strain.
Using Abrasive Products
With the advent of YouTube and Google, do-it-yourself (DIY) teeth whitening remedies have been damaging teeth more than helping them. Various products are proven effective in cleaning and whitening your teeth. However, you have to have knowledge of the accurate concentration and frequency of use.
For instance, hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent that is available to procure in supermarkets and pharmacies. A 3% dilution is safe for home use. However, prolonged exposure, even at a low concentration, is damaging to the teeth's enamel. The degree of enamel damage depends on the frequency and duration when teeth are exposed to the peroxide solution.
Activated charcoal also gained hype in the cosmetic industry, being an all-around remedy. In dentistry, activated charcoal is now a popular ingredient in toothpaste, claiming to whiten and remove stains in teeth. However, its efficacy as a whitening agent remains unproven. A 2017 review on the effect of charcoal-based dentifrices concludes that there is no sufficient data on the effectiveness and safety of charcoal toothpaste. In addition, dental clinicians are advised to counsel their patients to use these with caution. Activated charcoal is a mild abrasive that can wear down teeth enamel with daily use. It is also insoluble in water, meaning it can accumulate in the crevices of your teeth when not rinsed thoroughly.
Misuse of Teeth
The most common misuse of teeth is opening a pack of chips. What is worse is using our teeth to tear the hard plastic that holds tags on new clothes. Remember that our incisors are made to cut through food and not non-food materials. The pressure on your teeth due to a sudden snap can cause cracking or jaw injury.
Nail biting is a common habit brought on by nervousness and anxiety. Nails are made of keratin, which is considered one of the strongest non-mineralised tissues in nature. With this definition alone, we can concur why nail biting is bad for the teeth. Some damage seen due to nail biting are tooth chipping and misalignment. This may seem not as bad, but broken teeth may cause serious illnesses that we will tackle later.
Moreover, nail biting is an unsanitary habit that can increase the risk of infection. We use our hand for almost everything, increasing the possibility of transferring bacteria from the hand to the mouth. Skin infection may also occur on the skin lesion. Chronic nail biters unwittingly chew on them until it bleeds.
Bruxism and Chewing Ice
Are you one of the people who chew on the remaining ice cubes on their drinks? If so, you are unknowingly damaging your teeth. Chewing on ice can cause cracks and chips on the teeth as it can damage teeth's enamel. Abraded enamel leaves the teeth vulnerable to tooth decay and acid attacks. Since you just ate a meal that automatically increases your mouth's acidity, chewing ice can further increase the damage to your teeth.
Although not an uncontrollable oral practice, teeth damage is a typical consequence of bruxism. Individuals with bruxism unknowingly grind their teeth and clench their jaws while sleeping or concentrating. You can prevent teeth damage by using a mouthguard and stress relieving exercises.
Using a Stiff Bristle Toothbrush
Using hard bristled toothbrushes with vigorous strokes may seem to benefit your teeth, but this practice is scraping away the outer covering of the teeth and irritating your gums.
There is a reason why dentists around the world recommend soft-bristled toothbrushes. This is to clean your teeth as gently as possible without damaging the enamel and scratching the gums. Remember that brushing is a means to take care of your teeth and not to harm it. Using harsh materials can cause more harm than good. Abraded teeth increase cavity formation, while inflamed gums can be an entry point for bacteria, leading to gum infection.
Results of Bad Oral Practices
Tooth sensitivity happens when the enamel of the teeth are worn off. You will feel sudden sharp pain with eating or introduction to hot or cold food. In some cases, fever comes with inflamed gums. If left untreated, bad breath happens while bacterial build up starts, working their way inside the cavity. It's like riding an elevator down the roots causing severe gum infection or, worse, systemic illnesses of the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
A healthy mouth is made up of a set of strong teeth. However strong they are, they can only withstand a certain amount of pressure and abrasion to resist breakage. You can only preserve your teeth by finding effective solutions and breaking unhealthy oral practices damaging your teeth.
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