Are You Actively Giving Yourself Cavities? Habits to Break Now

mouth with pierced tongue sticking out

Bad habits are hard to break, but if you have bad habits that could lead to cavities or damage to your teeth, make this the year your break them. The longer you indulge in habits that are harmful to your oral health, the more likely you will need to have expensive dental work done to save your teeth.

Neglecting Brushing and Flossing

Nothing is more important than ensuring your teeth and gums are properly cleaned. Although nearly everyone brushes their teeth, they may not be brushing properly. Using a medium or hard-bristle toothbrush is a habit for many, but it doesn’t help clean your teeth. It irritates the gums and erodes tooth enamel, contributing to cavities. Use a soft-bristle brush and brush for 2-3 minutes, paying attention to all the teeth. It helps to spend 30 seconds on each “quadrant” of the mouth breaking into 4 sections of upper right, lower right, upper left and lower left.

Flossing is just as important as it removes bacteria and debris along the gum line. It’s tempting only to floss when you have something visible stuck in your teeth, but that neglects the daily problem of trapped foods, gingivitis, and germs from eating and drinking. When flossing, you can make a “C” shape and hug each side of the tooth so you are effectively cleaning the entire surface.

Crunching Ice or Chewing on Objects

Many of us don’t realize how often we crunch ice or chew on things like pens or fingernails until we damage a tooth. There are several issues with chewing on foreign objects. They are covered in germs that can lead to gingivitis or infections, they can loosen or dislodge a filling, and can lead to cracks in the teeth. Sometimes chewing on objects can be attributed to a psychological condition such as anxiety or compulsive nervous habits. Try switching to sugarless chewing gum and keep those fingers out of your mouth!

Getting Tongue or Lip Piercings

While the look of a tongue or lip piercing may appeal to you, dentists strongly discourage them. Many people with piercings play with or bite on the piercing, which can easily chip a tooth. If you are in an accident or suffer a blow to the face, a piercing can shatter most of your teeth. The metal can also be a breeding ground for infection. Since it isn’t possible to properly clean the site where the piercing enters your lip or tongue, bacteria will build up – potentially causing an infection or trauma to the soft tissues.

Drinking Soda or Pop

When your doctor advises you to drink plenty of fluids, they are not thinking of soft drinks packed with sugar. Sugar lingers in the mouth, bathing your teeth in acid that leads to plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease. An average can of Coca-Cola contains a whopping 39 grams of sugar equivalent to 7 teaspoons of sugar! This eats away at the enamel on your teeth, making them more prone to cavities as you age. Try replacing these acidic drinks with a sparkling water or something carbonated to satisfy the craving.

Using Tobacco

It doesn’t matter whether it’s chewing tobacco or smoking; if you use tobacco, you’re encouraging cavities and gum disease. Tobacco stains the teeth and significantly contributes to periodontal disease. Harmful bacteria invade the pockets around your teeth switching from aerobic to anerobic bacteria which also causes halitosis aka “Bad Breath”. Individuals who smoke are far more likely to develop cavities and lose teeth. The most problematic part of using tobacco is the significant risk factor of developing oral cancer. You are five times as likely to develop oral cancer if you use tobacco regularly.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption

 Drinking too many alcoholic beverages, particularly red wines or liquor, can wear away tooth enamel, leading them vulnerable to cavities due to the acidity and sugar content. It can also discolor your teeth, aging you prematurely. If you drink alcohol before bed, make sure you brush thoroughly and rinse to wash away the acids and sugars.

Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

It’s a stressful world, and a common response to stress is to clench or grind the teeth. Most of us don’t realize we’re doing it, making it a difficult habit to break. But if you don’t stop, grinding or clenching the teeth puts too much pressure on them, leading to cracking or chipping. You may also wear the teeth down, exposing the dentin to bacteria. Try stress reduction techniques or talk to your doctor about ways to combat tooth grinding. Dr. Forcioli is trained to fabricate oral appliances that prevent bruxism and tooth grinding.

Snacking Too Often

While you may love “grazing” throughout the day, snacking too often contributes to cavities. Many people are surprised to learn that if you eat carbohydrates, sugary or acidic foods, it raises the acidity of your mouth. The acid, in turn, attacks your teeth. Although saliva can neutralize acid, it takes almost 30 minutes. If you snack throughout the day, it is virtually impossible for your saliva to bring the acid level in your mouth down to a safe level. Instead of continual snacking, enjoy the occasional sugary treat with a meal and brush afterward. If you aren’t able to brush, make sure to rinse with water and clear out the leftover food particles.

Forcioli Family Dentistry and Dr. Forcioli can offer customized additional suggestions and treatment plans for preventing cavities. One important step is having your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year at our office. If you have not seen a dentist recently or would like to learn more about proper dental hygiene, contact our office at Lombard IL Cosmetic Dentistry Office Phone Number 630-627-1495.