7 Ways to Ruin Your Teeth

By on September 1, 2011

By: Tamekia Reece –

Regardless of how beautiful your hairstyle, how stylish your wardrobe, and how flawless your makeup, your teeth can make or break your appearance. A bright, healthy smile can make you look years younger. An unhealthy one, however, can add years (or even decades) to your face.

Even more important, the condition of your teeth can affect your health. Studies have shown that periodontal disease (gum disease) is associated with heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other illnesses.

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To keep your looks (and your health) in top shape, check out these things you may be doing that damage your teeth.

Neglecting brushing and flossing
Think it’s good enough that you brush your teeth once a day? When was the last time you flossed? “Proper oral hygiene includes a minimum of a twice-a-day brushing and once-a-day flossing,” says Gregg Schneider, DDS, a nutritional dentist in Rahway, NJ: website is WWW.drgreggschneider.com. If you’re not brushing and flossing that often, you’re setting yourself up for tooth problems.

Skipping dental visits
When your calendar is filled with doctor’s appointments for a mammogram, colonoscopy, bone density test and more, it’s easy to put off a dental exam or skip it altogether. But those biannual dates with your dentist are just as important as other medical screenings. “Regular dental checkups are important to diagnose tooth decay and gum disease in their earliest stages,” says Marylouise Howatt, DDS, of Madison Dental Group in New York. If the conditions are caught early, your dentist can treat them and help you to prevent further damage, she says.

Skimping on H2O
Looking for a simple way to wreak havoc on your smile? Don’t drink enough water. “Water consumption maintains proper hydration in the mouth, removes particulate matter and is instrumental in the formation of saliva which helps cleans the mouth naturally,” Dr. Schneider says. Not getting enough of the clear stuff can make your mouth more hospital to gum disease-causing bacteria and inflammation.

Smoking and chewing tobacco
It’s been drilled in everyone’s head: smoking causes bad breath and stained teeth. Not only that, it can cause mouth sores, shrinking gums and oral cancer. And if you think chewing your tobacco instead of smoking it will get you off the hook, you’re wrong. Chewing tobacco also has many harmful effects such as increasing the risks of oral cancers, Dr. Schneider says. Plus, “they are usually very coarse, which inflicts damage on the teeth and gums, and they are highly-sugared to improve taste,” he says. And, of course, those sugars up the risk of developing cavities.

Eating the wrong foods
“High-sugar and tenacious foods, like jelly beans, raisins, dried fruit and caramel candy, are detrimental to the oral environment,” Dr. Schneider says. So are some drinks, like sodas and sugary juices. “These sugar-filled foods and acidic drinks erode the teeth and gums and allow the bad bacteria to thrive,” Dr. Schneider explains.

Not getting proper nutrients
You’ve always been told vitamins and minerals help to build a strong and healthy body. Well, it’s true. An easy way to weaken your teeth is to slack on calcium and vitamins C and D. Calcium helps promote healthy tooth enamel, vitamin D is important for proper bone health, and vitamin C is instrumental in the formation of collagen which attaches the gums to the teeth, Dr. Schneider says. Taking a multivitamin or eating foods high in vitamin C (like oranges, broccoli and strawberries), vitamin D (fish and dairy products) and calcium (yogurt, cheese and milk) can help you reach the appropriate levels.

Living with dry mouth
Hormonal changes, medications and some illnesses can all cause dry mouth. Dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay due to the loss of the “buffering” effect of saliva, Dr. Howatt says. “Digestion of foods starts with exposure to enzymes in saliva, and the chewing and processing of foods is less efficient when a person suffers from dry mouth,” she explains. Dry mouth makes plaque more difficult to remove, increasing gum inflammation. Use of saliva replacement can help assist with dry mouth syndrome, Dr. Howatt says.


About Tamekia Reece

Tamekia Reece is a health writer living in Houston, TX. She’s written for Woman’s Day, Parents and Oxygen, among others. See her website at www.tamekiareece.com.

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7 Ways to Ruin Your Teeth