Translate

Please choose a language

Choose
Navigation
Pay My Bill

We are a full-service, family-centered, primary care facility providing quality, affordable, accessible health care.

Make a difference Donate

Looking for a doctor? Click Here

Patient Portal Click Here

Bad Habits That Can Lead To Bad Teeth – Part One

Are you guilty of a bad habit that can lead to dental problems? Dr. John Palm, dentist and Medical Director of Keystone Dental Care, shares some of the things people do every day that can send them to the dental office.

Chewing Ice

Chewing on a chunk of ice puts tremendous strain on the crystal structure of your teeth. The hardness and cold temperature of ice can actually cause teeth to fracture. It can cause microscopic cracks in enamel, which can lead to bigger cracks over time. Teeth with large fillings are especially vulnerable, and large pieces of tooth may eventually break away. In some cases, a tooth may split in half and be impossible to save. Other culprits are popcorn kernels, sunflower seed shells and the pits of fruit such as cherries, peaches and plums, which can also put undue stress on a tooth and cause it to fracture. Some people put these in their mouths to suck on and then crunch on. Avoid these practices when you eat or drink.

The solution: Drink chilled beverages without ice, or use a straw if you must use ice. The risk of chewing ice is greater than any pleasure that comes from chewing it. Another option is letting ice slivers melt in your mouth. This may help satisfy the need to crunch down. Also, when eating snacks, eat something that’s healthier and softer to chew, such as small tender pieces of baby carrots, broccoli, apples, celery and other fresh fruits and vegetables. If you feel the need to chew on something, try sugar-free gum. It will keep your breath fresh and is much gentler on teeth. Research has shown that chewing gum sweetened with 100% xylitol helps prevent tooth decay. Xylitol inhibits the growth of the bacteria that cause cavities.

Using Teeth As Tools

People often do not recognize the dangers of using their teeth to open things. Your teeth were made for eating, not as a substitute for scissors or holding things when your hands are full. Do not use your teeth to crack open nuts or shellfish, as the shells are like sandpaper on your teeth. When you do this, you put yourself at a higher risk of cracking your teeth, injuring your jaw or accidentally swallowing something you shouldn’t. Some people use their teeth to uncap a bottle, pull out a watch stem, or rip a price tag off a piece of clothing. This can be hard on your teeth, traumatizing them or causing the edge of a weakened tooth to chip off. Using your teeth to grasp objects like these can cause malocclusion (poor jaw alignment), and wear down your teeth unevenly. Malocclusion can lead to a type of jaw pain known as TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder).

The solution: Stop and find something or someone to give you a hand. Think about what you’re putting in your mouth before you use your teeth as tools. Take a few seconds to get a bottle opener or nutcracker and save your teeth for their intended use.

Snacking And Sipping Sugary Drinks Throughout The Day

Frequent snacking on carbohydrate-containing foods can be an invitation to tooth decay. When you eat, the bacteria convert the sugar and starch that remain in the mouth to acid, and that attacks tooth enamel. The longer sugars are retained in your mouth, the longer the acids attack. Sipping sugary drinks throughout the day is another bad habit. The constant exposure to sweet and acidic beverages can foster tooth decay. When you eat, your saliva is breaking down the sugars that are in your foods and drinks. Your saliva is also working to protect your tooth enamel by providing the proper minerals to coat the surface of your teeth. If you’re snacking all day, you’re never giving your saliva enough time to protect your smile.

The solution: Eat balanced meals to feel fuller, longer. When you’re constantly snacking throughout the day, you’re most likely snacking on foods that aren’t so good for your diet or your teeth. And since you’re snacking on smaller portions of food, you’re more likely to be hungrier throughout the day, causing you to eat more and more. If you need a snack, make sure it’s low in fat and sugar. If you indulge in the occasional sugary treat, follow it with a big glass of water to wash away leftover food. Sip sweetened drinks through a straw to minimize sugar and acid exposure to your teeth. Be sure the straw is positioned toward the back of the mouth, not resting against your teeth. Drink water throughout the day. Water naturally rinses your teeth and washes away food particles and acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth. It helps to decrease the pH level in your mouth and helps alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.