Teeth Mistakes You’re Making – Part 3

A man is smoking a cigarette in front of a window, ignoring the potential harm to his teeth.

This blog post probably doesn’t require an introduction anymore. We are sure you are all sitting at the edge of your seats waiting for the next series of Teeth Mistakes you are probably making. In all seriousness, we do hope that the last two weeks of posts have helped everyone change some of the habits that many of us have formed. Moving onto teeth mistake #11.

Teeth Mistake #11 – Smoking

You already know smoking is bad for your lungs and heart. In case you need another reason to quit smoking: Besides the bad breath and stained teeth, smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease (and the gum recession, bone loss, and tooth loss that come with it), according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Worse yet, smoking can also lower your chances for successful treatment if you’ve already got gum disease, since nicotine compromises your body’s ability to fight infection.

Teeth Mistake #12 – Reaching for a toothpick

While those old-school sticks can certainly come in handy when food gets stuck between your teeth at a restaurant on date night (or when a fictional tough guy needs to look cool), the truth is that wooden toothpicks are poor substitutes for dental floss: They can splinter and break, and using them too aggressively can cause damage to sensitive gum tissue. Take a pick if you’re in dire need (or if you’re in an action movie), but know that they’re far better suited to an hors d’oeuvres tray than they are to your mouth.

Teeth Mistake #13 – Skipping dentist appointments

Hate sitting in the dentist’s chair? The very best trick for short-circuiting anxiety about going to the dentist is—surprise—going to the dentist. Most patients who don’t like to come in feel that way because when they do, they need a lot of work. If you’re in every six months for your checkups, you’re less likely to run into problems. Moreover, dentists are beginning to employ everything from serene, spa-like settings to animal-assisted therapy (that is, a gentle dog who sits beside you at your appointment) to alleviate patient discomfort; you can find a dental practice in your comfort zone.

Teeth Mistake #14 – Going overboard with bleach

This one should be a no-brainer: Overbleaching teeth can lead to weakened enamel and teeth sensitivity. Ironically, enamel loss exposes the layer of dentin beneath it, making your teeth look dingy rather than pearly. Little is known about the long-term effects of whitening, but the bottom line is that you should consult your dentist—that is, the professional who knows your teeth and is best equipped to suggest an in-office treatment or over-the-counter product that’s right for you—and use the whitener they recommend in moderation.

Teeth Mistake #15- Not drinking enough water

If your part of the country fluoridates its water (find out by visiting the CDC’s My Water’s Fluoride page), you’re in luck: The simple act of sipping tap water can help strengthen your teeth. (Prefer bottled? Some bottled waters have fluoride, and some don’t; if it’s not listed as an ingredient in the one you favor, it’s extra-important to use toothpaste with fluoride.) Swishing with and drinking water is also an important way to rinse accumulated sugars and acids from your teeth.

That’s a wrap for today’s blog. See you next week for the fourth, an final edition of this four part series. Read >> Part 4

Dr Christopher Sims
Latest posts by Dr Christopher Sims (see all)

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