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Habits that wreck your teeth

Old habits die hard, and so it is important to identify those habits which are detrimental to health. However, many people are not aware of the harmful effects of several habits. Here are 18 habits that can cause serious damage to teeth and yet are frequently neglected.

CHEWING ICE CUBES:

Many think that chewing ice cubes are a harmless activity as ice cubes are natural and sugar free. However, it can injure the soft tissue inside leading to frequent toothaches. The hard cube can also crack or chip the teeth. Sharp, piercing pain can also be caused due to food items which are very hot or very cold. The best option for those who like munching is to use a sugarless gum substitute.

NOT USING MOUTH GUARD DURING SPORTS:

A mouth guard is a piece of protective plastic mold that protects upper teeth. In contact sports like hockey, rugby or football, the teeth can get knocked out during a rough game. Mouth guards are available at stores and customised ones can be made by a dentist.

BABY’S BEDTIME BOTTLES:

Babies tend to fall asleep while sucking on a bottle of milk or juice. The continuous exposure of teeth to sugar in the milk or juice can cause tooth decay. So care should be taken to take the bottle away as soon as the baby falls asleep.

BITING TONGUE AND LIP PIERCING:

Biting the tongue or lip piercings can cause teeth to crack or chip. Also the continuous abrasion on the gum caused by the tongue piercing can lead to tooth loss due to gum damage. There is also a risk of infection as the mouth is home to a large number of bacteria.

BRUXISM OR TEETH GRINDING:

Most people engage in this activity during stress or sleep. It can wear down the teeth over time. The pain and damage due to this can be reduced by avoiding hard foods. Sleep time grinding can be overcome by wearing a mouth guard.

COUGH SYRUPS, LOZENGES AND GUMMY CANDIES:

These have a high sugar concentration and cause teeth plaque leading to cavities. It is always important to brush well while taking them. Taking candies at mealtime can help wash down the sugar in excess saliva produced during meals.

SODAS:

Sodas contain excessive sugar, phosphoric and citric acids, all of which can damage the enamel. Although diet sodas have less sugar, the artificial sweeteners might be a source of acid.

USING TEETH TO OPEN PACKAGING:

Opening plastic coverings and bottle caps using teeth can cause them to crack or chip.

SPORT DRINKS:

Sports drinks like sodas have high sugar content and can lead to tooth decay. The best alternative to sports drinks, especially to stay refreshed and hydrated after working out or exercise, is pure drinking water.

FRUIT DRINKS:

Have several health benefits and are a good source of antioxidants. However, these too have excessive sugar content. One way to tackle this is to have natural sweet juices without added sugar. Another option is to dilute it by adding water.

POTATO CHIPS:

Potato chips and other starchy food items get broken down into acid by teeth plaque. The acid attacks the teeth for a longer duration in those who snack very often. It also happens when food remains get lodged between the teeth. So always make sure to floss the teeth after meals.

FREQUENT SNACKING:

Snacking does not produce as much saliva as while having a meal. As a result the excess sugar does not get removed during snacking. One obvious option is to reduce snacking. Another way is to stick to snack items like carrots that are low in starch and sugar.

CHEWING PENCILS:

Those who have a tendency to chew or munch on something while working or studying, should opt for sugarless gums. Chewing on pencils is as detrimental to the teeth as chewing ice cubes.

COFFEE:

The dark color of coffee can cause teeth discoloration over time. The acid in the coffee also contribute to yellowing of teeth. However the good news is that coffee stains can be easily removed at a dental clinic using whitening treatments.

SMOKING:

Tobacco products including cigarettes can cause gum disease and damage as well as teeth discoloration. Tobacco is also known to cause cancer in mouth, tongue and lips.

RED WINE:

The presence of chromogen pigment and tannins in the wine, create stains on teeth. The acidity of wine is also detrimental to the tooth enamel, making it more vulnerable to discoloration.

WHITE WINE:

The acidic effects of white wine are equally damaging. Even though it does not cause direct staining, it can leave the teeth porous and increase susceptibility to stains. Washing the mouth with water and brushing using a whitening toothpaste can reduce staining effects.

BINGE EATING AND PURGING:

Binging can cause tooth decay. When coupled with purging (bulimia nervosa), it becomes even more dangerous as the acid content in vomit can damage and weaken the teeth. It also causes bad breath and can lead to many other health issues.

Awareness about these habits which cause health issues can help in taking a conscious effort to overcome them or at least reduce their harmful effects.

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