While they are greatly important, brushing and flossing are not the only things that affect your dental health. Many things people do throughout the day have a negative impact on the health of your teeth and gums. In this week’s blog, we will explain how four specific habits are bad for your oral health.
Most people know that smoking is bad for you. What many do not realize is that smoking can cause very bad oral hygiene. Smoking increases the risk for both cavities and gum disease.
Smoking anything (not just tobacco) has a drying effect on the mouth. A dry mouth has an acidic pH, making it easier for cavity-causing bacteria to break into tooth enamel. A dry mouth also allows the buildup of dental plaque that is sticky and more difficult to remove. This increases the risk for cavities.
Smoking cigarettes restricts the blood flow in the tiny blood vessels that supply the gum tissues. This lack of blood supply impairs the ability of oral tissues to fight the attacks of bacteria in dental plaque. This allows gum disease to progress rapidly and even masks the symptoms so the patient does not realize there is a problem. In smokers, gum disease gets worse faster and is more difficult to successfully treat.
Is ice bad for your teeth and should you avoid chewing it altogether? Chewing ice is actually a hard habit to break. If you do not break the habit though, it is likely to break your teeth!
Many people believe that chewing ice is only dangerous when the ice is extremely dense and hard. They think that switching to a more soft ice, like that sold by many fast-food restaurants, is a good solution.
The problem with this thinking is that it is not only the density of the ice that is dangerous. Any type of ice is dangerous to teeth because the wide temperature gradient between the inside of the mouth and the ice can cause fractures in the enamel.
Similar to pouring hot water on a frozen windshield, putting ice on a warm enamel tooth can cause it to crack. Chewing ice greatly increases your risk for cracked teeth.
Adding Lemon or Lime to Water
Many restaurants serve ice water with a lemon or lime wedge. Sometimes, they do this to mask an unpleasant flavor or water or to present a nice appearance to the table. Squeezing that lime or lemon into your water causes a drastic drop in the pH, though, and that can negatively affect your dental health.
A healthy mouth is neutral in pH or slightly alkaline. Saliva keeps your mouth at a healthy pH and fights the acid produced by cavity-causing bacteria. If someone lacks saliva (as in the case of dry mouth), the overall pH inside the mouth is acidic.
We also make the overall pH inside the mouth acidic by drinking acidic beverages. Water always seems like the healthy choice, but if you are adding lemon or lime to it, you make it less healthy.
Acid is damaging to the hard structures of the teeth. It can slowly dissolve the enamel through acid erosion or make it easier for cavities to destroy tooth structure.
Sipping Throughout the Day
Most people sip on something throughout their workdays, and unless that something is plain, neutral water, then there is a risk for cavities.
Coffee, tea, sodas, and sports drinks are all acidic in pH. Even sparkling water, that contains zero sugar, is not good for constant sipping. When you sip on a beverage throughout the day, you are constantly bathing your teeth in that liquid, exposing them to the acidic pH and any sugar that is present.
One important aspect of the cavity process is the time required to weaken tooth enamel. The longer we expose teeth to acidic pH and sugar, the higher the risk for decay is. This is the case with sipping beverages throughout the day.
We can reduce that risk by shortening the time that we expose the teeth to anything besides water. Simply drink it quickly and follow with plain water. This helps protect your teeth from acid erosion and cavities.
More Questions about Specific Habits that could Impact Your Dental Health? Call Rockland Dental Today!
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today at (845)-259-2500 or contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our experts. We can answer any question you have about your specific habits and help you understand their effect on your dental health.