Are you accidentally sabotaging your oral health with one of these common habits? Let’s look at a few habits that you should overcome and why.
Keeping your toothbrush within 6 feet of the toilet
Did you know that when you flush a toilet, especially one with the lid up, you spray the surrounding area with droplets filled with fecal matter and bacteria? If your sink is next to the toilet and your toothbrush is there, it’s not much better than dipping your toothbrush in the toilet. Consider storing your toothbrush on another countertop, or if that’s not possible in a cabinet or drawer. ALWAYS close the lid when you flush to help stop the “plume” of toilet bacteria covering your bathroom!
Storing your toothbrush in a cap
Given what we shared in the last point, you are probably running to the bathroom RIGHT NOW to put a cover or cap on your toothbrush. But wait! Before you do that, consider this: the ideal environment for bacterial growth is a dark, moist, enclosed space.
Spending only 48 sec or less brushing your teeth daily
Yup. That’s how long most people spend brushing their teeth. Considering the ADA recommends 2 minutes twice a day, that’s not nearly enough. Remember it’s not just about how clean your teeth feel. You also want to consider how long the fluoride in the toothpaste has had to saturate your teeth. Your teeth need to be able to defend themselves for the 1,436 minutes that you’re not brushing. Allowing the fluoride to sit on your teeth for two minutes twice a day helps to strengthen enamel and protect your teeth for the rest of the day!
Skipping the flossing
We know, you’re tired from a long day and flossing sounds like one task too many. But did you know that skipping flossing can cause you to miss up to 40% of the plaque build-up on your teeth? Eek! That’s a lot of plaque! Plaque builds up and attacks enamel on ALL sides of your teeth, including the ones between teeth where your toothbrush simply can’t reach. While it’s tempting to skip this part of your oral hygiene regimen, don’t!
Opening things with your teeth
Whether it’s the top of a chip bag, a beer bottle, or something else, it’s really common to see people using their teeth as a tool. Problem is, although many animals do this, they don’t have the same dexterity we have. Additionally, few animals only get two sets of teeth in their life. For 93% of your life you’ll have adult teeth that will never be replaced. If you damage, break, or loosen a tooth it can start a dangerous downward cycle in your health. Always seek dental care if your tooth pops or cracks after use. It’s important to treat any injury while it’s still minor.
Brushing too hard
Plaque is bad news. We understand why you go to town on your teeth, scrubbing at the plaque like it is soap scum on a tub. Especially if you skip brushing or flossing and plaque becomes tartar on your teeth, it’s easy to think that scrubbing at it is the right approach. Unfortunately, enamel is quite sensitive and can be worn down as well. This leaves your teeth defenseless against bacteria and acid. You should only apply enough pressure to give your gums a gentle massage. Any build-up that isn’t removed with that little force is best removed by a dental professional with the proper tools. Schedule a hygiene appointment with one of our fabulous hygienists today to help get off stubborn tartar and plaque!
If you suffer from dry mouth, it’s a good idea to suck on ice or drink lots of water. It’s easy to subconsciously go from sucking on ice to chewing on it. However tempting it may be, chewing ice is a bad idea. It can damage the enamel on your teeth, and may even cause tiny cracks in teeth or along fillings. It may also lead to temperature sensitivity as your enamel is weakened. The impulse to chew on ice has actually been linked to a number of underlying issues, so if you’re struggling with the impulse discuss it with your medical doctor.
The nicotine in cigarettes has long been linked to tooth staining. Beyond just the cosmetic concerns, there are also many known carcinogens in cigarettes that weaken enamel and can cause oral cancer over time. In fact, 90% of people with oral, lip, or throat cancer used tobacco. Smokers are 6x more likely to develop cancer than non-smokers.
Drinking lots of coffee, tea, and soda
Soda, coffee, and tea also stain your teeth. Additionally, the sugar and acid in coffee, tea, and soda wear down your enamel. Then, sugars feed rampant bacteria growth that causes tooth decay. A great alternative to these drinks is water. It not only doesn’t hurt your teeth, it actually helps rebuild it! If you really want to keep drinking these beverages, consider limiting yourself to once a day, or better once a week.
As always, stay heathy! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to our office!