It’s easy to overlook common mistakes when it comes to keeping your teeth healthy. Here are some of the top five concerns that dentists and hygienists want you to know can destroy the most beautiful smile:
Drinking Something Else Instead of Water
Water naturally cleanses your teeth. Coming from the tap, it also contains monitored fluoride levels for healthy enamel and bones (making your teeth more resistant to decay.)
However, drinking sweetened or artificially sweetened beverages like sports drinks or diet soda can cause extensive damage. While some people feel that these drinks are healthier than other sugar-filled sodas, they’re just as bad. As the sweeteners and acids coat your teeth, they feed bacteria and lower the pH inside of your mouth. When you drink them, it speeds up the demineralization and decay of healthy enamel.
If you are going to indulge in a soda or sweet tea now and then, try drinking through a straw and having it with food. The length of time that it coats your teeth has a significant impact on how much damage is done. As far as sports drinks go, save them for days of extreme physical exertion when dehydration is a true risk.
Your hygienist wasn’t joking when she said that you needed to be flossing every day. 40% of your tooth surfaces aren’t accessible with a toothbrush. That means you need to be cleaning between them with something else. Otherwise, it’s like going through the carwash without it ever cleaning the doors of your vehicle.
If you hate flossing that much, consider using different floss aids or even a water flosser. You’ll keep your teeth cleaner, reduce your risk of cavities, and help to avoid bone loss around your teeth.
“But my gums bleed when I floss them” you reply…if so, you’re not alone. Gingivitis leads to bleeding and swelling due to the bacteria causing an infection. It can take up to two weeks of daily flossing before you see the bleeding start to go away. Keep it up and be persistent. If the bleeding lasts longer than 14 days, you may have a more severe form of gum disease and need to see your dentist.
Smoking and Tobacco Use
We’re not talking about oral cancer at the moment (even though tobacco is a risk factor.) Rather, we’re discussing the way tobacco use changes your oral tissues in a way that doesn’t promote healing or circulation.
You see, if you start to develop gum infections such as periodontal disease, you would normally see signs of bleeding or swelling. People who use tobacco products may not realize there is an infection until they’re approaching the later stages of tooth loss. Why? Because it reduces blood flow and inflammation…making the outer surface of your oral tissues look healthy, even though they aren’t. Deep down, they can still be diseased and detached from the teeth.
Letting Stress Get to Your Teeth
One of the most common things that we as people do when we are stressed, is grind and clench our teeth together. It may be on your hour-long commute home from work, or when you’re sleeping. But the signs are there: sore jaws, headaches, and flattened or chipped teeth.
Not only does this break down your tooth enamel, it can also destroy any dental work that you’ve already invested in. Avoiding stress altogether isn’t always possible. As such, you might want to ask your dentist about having a protective bite guard or splint made that you can wear when you sleep or work.
Skipping Your Dental Check-Up
A preventive cleaning can remove bacterial deposits that lead to decay and gum disease. These calcified deposits can’t be lifted away with a toothbrush and floss. As such, it’s important to disrupt them on a regular basis. For people with healthy teeth, that’s usually no less frequently than every six months.
If you’ve been avoiding your dental checkups because of lack of dental coverage, you may be paying for it in more ways than one later on down the road. Find out how you can access affordable dental care today. Contact Aetna Dental Offers to learn more about participating dentists accepting our plans in your area.