12 Things That Destroy Your Teeth and What To Do About Them

Avoid things that cause tooth decay

Protect your teeth from these common oral health hazards.

Tooth enamel may be the strongest substance in the human body, but we all know it isn’t impervious to damage. Tooth decay and gum disease are often responsible for dental issues, followed by broken or missing teeth from accidental injuries. The good news is most cases of damaged or missing teeth are preventable, and you can decrease your risk of oral health problems in several ways.

Here are 12 examples of what to avoid to protect your teeth from destruction.

1. Brushing Too Soon

Brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking might seem like a good way to remove food debris, but the truth is it can actually exacerbate enamel damage. Tooth enamel is sensitive after meals, especially when sugars or acids are present. Erosion or etching can happen easily if you brush too soon after eating. Instead, swish your mouth with clean water right away and then wait at least 30 to 45 minutes before gently brushing.

2. Brushing Too Hard

Too much of a good thing is definitely a bad thing when it comes to brushing pressure. Brushing with excessive pressure gradually erodes tooth enamel, often leading to receding gums. The same logic applies to using a toothbrush with firm bristles. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush, mild pressure, and focus on a proper brushing technique vs. speed. Many new powered toothbrushes include built-in pressure sensors and timers.

3. Skipping the Floss

Flossing is just as important as brushing, especially for cavity and gum disease prevention. Brushing alone won’t remove all debris or loose plaque, no matter how well you brush or how advanced your toothbrush may be. The minimum recommendation is to floss thoroughly between every tooth at least once daily, ideally before brushing. However, you’re encouraged to floss whenever you feel food stuck in your teeth.

4. Using Teeth as Tools

Using our teeth to tear open packages or hold an object when our hands are busy is intrinsic, but the habit of using teeth as tools is dangerous. Chips and cracks can occur, and a broken tooth is certainly possible with significant stress, such as attempting a party trick of opening a bottle with your teeth.

5. Tobacco Use and Vaping

Tobacco use greatly increases the risks of developing oral cancer, can cause teeth to become permanently yellow, and encourages plaque build-up. Vaping may not be as dangerous as smoking tobacco, but it still negatively affects oral health. People who vape daily often have more oral bacteria and subsequent plaque build-up than those who don’t.

6. Not Wearing a Mouth Guard

Mouth guards are a necessity, not a luxury, when playing any sort of contact sport. Whether you play football with friends on the weekend or practice mixed martial arts for fun, if you expect contact, wear a mouth guard. Even a mild impact to the face at just the right angle can be enough to break a tooth or knock it out entirely.

7. Bruxism

Chronic teeth grinding or gnashing is also known as bruxism. Bruxism can be both a behavior or a symptom of a larger issue. For example, stress can lead to grinding your teeth, as can an undiagnosed TMJ disorder. Regardless of the cause, take bruxism seriously and get evaluated by a dentist to prevent teeth from becoming chipped, fractured, or worn down.

8. Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a frustrating health problem that can impact oral health just as much as your physical well-being. Acid reflux can quickly erode tooth enamel, especially on the backside of the teeth, and leave them weakened and susceptible to further damage. Your doctor can help you manage your acid reflux symptoms while your dentist can repair any damage and bolster your preventive care plan.

9. Dry Mouth

Chronic dry mouth (xerostomia) makes your mouth feel sticky and unpleasant, but that’s not all; dry mouth speeds up plaque development. Excessive plaque build-up leads to gingivitis, eventual periodontitis, and tooth decay. Living with xerostomia means you have an inherently higher risk of developing several oral health issues, which means playing defense through preventative care is especially important.

10. Processed Carbohydrates

Sugar gets a bad rap, and rightfully so, but it isn’t the only type of food that can destroy teeth. Saliva has a specific enzyme called amylase that breaks down the properties of starches and processed carbs into a form of sugar called maltose. The same bad bacteria that feast on sugar from candy and produce enamel-eating acids, also feast on maltose.

11. Skipping Dental Appointments

Tooth decay and gum disease don’t happen overnight; these issues often develop slowly over several months or years, before damage and pain result. Seeing your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning, even if your teeth feel fine, is crucial for preventing oral disease before it has a chance to cause severe damage to your smile.

12. Ignoring Tooth Pain

A toothache can quickly ruin your day, but think twice before you hop on Google to search for “home remedies for tooth pain”. Every toothache, even if mild or infrequent, always requires evaluation by a dentist because tooth pain means damage has already occurred. Treating pain at home and ignoring the signs only leads to further tooth damage and more pain.

Preventive Dental Care at Monroe Family Dentistry

Establishing a strong preventive dental care routine is crucial for protecting your teeth from damage. The first step is to see Dr. Monroe for an initial checkup and consultation to develop an effective at-home dental care routine.

Schedule a checkup with your favorite Greenville, SC dentist today by calling our office or using this online form.