Posted in Brushing, Diet, Grinding, Health and lifestyle, Soft Drinks

How to turn 7 bad habits into 7 good habits for your teeth

 

Author: Dr Rita Trakhtman, cosmetic dentist, East St Kilda

  • 1) A bad habit: Smoking. You can end up losing your teeth from smoking. Your teeth are held in place by bone and when you smoke, that bone shrinks. Your teeth start to move and become loose as the bone around them weakens. Before you know it, your teeth get so loose and wobbly that the only way to get you out of discomfort is to yank them out.
  • A good habit is to go to your GP and talk to them about quitting. They can prescribe you medication to help with the cravings, and set you up with a program.

 

  • 2) A bad habit: Skipping brushing your teeth after a big night out. Alcohol contains sugars so when you go to sleep, that sugar keeps attacking your teeth for hours.
  • A good habit is to at least rinse your mouth with a fluoride-containing mouthwash, or smear some toothpaste or toothmousse on your teeth, so you’re feeding your teeth a dose of protective fluoride before bed. Of course the ideal is to brush your teeth.

 

  • 3) A bad habit: Brushing your teeth in the mornings but not brushing your teeth at night. All the sugars that you ate during the day continues to attack your teeth at night, for the entire night while you’re asleep. Even though you’re not eating, the sugars in your mouth are working over-time to create cavities in your teeth.
  • A good habit is to brush your teeth at nighttime before you go to bed. If you’re going to brush once a day, it’s best to brush at nighttime.

 

  • 4) A bad habit: Brushing immediately after a meal. Our saliva is acidic immediately after we eat. This acidic state means our enamel is soft for about half an hour. You need to give your teeth time to regain their strength before you expose them to the bristles of your toothbrush.
  • A good habit is to wait half hour before brushing. In the meantime it’s good to chew sugar-free gum immediately after you eat. The chewing neutralises the acidity in your mouth by producing more saliva, which is good for your teeth.

 

  • 5) A bad habit: Snacking on sugary treats. Frequency of sugar is more important than quantity of sugar. Sugar varies in its appearance and doesn’t just pertain to lollies and sweets. Sugar can be in the form of complex carbohydrates, such as crackers, bread, dried fruit, honey.
  • A good habit: It’s also better to have sweets as a dessert (straight after a meal) rather than as a snack on its own. Limit the number of times you eat sugar, and focus less on the quantity of sugar. In other words, eat the whole chocolate bar at once after dinner, rather than taking a bite of chocolate every half an hour.

 

  • 6) A bad habit: Drinking soft drinks. They have high levels of sugar and the greater number of times you drink per day, the worse it is for your teeth. Soft drinks are as corrosive to your teeth as meth. In a small case study published in General Dentistry,  Temple University’s School of Dentistry, examined the teeth of a meth user, crack cocaine addict, and soft drink junkie. All three were longtime abusers—the soda drinker consumed two liters a day for three to five years—and none visited a dentist regularly. Dental erosion, or the dissolving of enamel, is the underlying issue hereThe damage done to the teeth was almost identical in all three mouths. Drinking more than four cans of soft drinks per week puts you in the high risk zone for dental erosion.
  • A good habit: Moderating your soft drink habit is key. Frequency plays a more important role to the health of your teeth over quantity. If you’re going to drink soft drinks, use a straw so your teeth are less exposed to the sugar in the drink. Also, it’s better to drink the soft drink all at once rather than sipping throughout the day. If you’re really committed to change, swap the flavoured soft drinks for soda water and put your own flavours into it, such as fresh mint leaves.

 

  • 7) A bad habit: Grinding and clenching at nighttime. There is no way of stopping you from grinding or clenching in your sleep. It’s a psychological habit that you do in your sleep.
  • A good habit: Wearing a customised mouthguard (called an occlusal splint) at night while you’re sleeping. It will protect your teeth and jaw joints from further damage.

 

 

Author: Dr Rita Trakhtman, cosmetic dentist, East St Kilda

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An online healthy lifestyle blog from a dental point of view - Advice on how to live a healthy lifeSMILE :)

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