My ultimate goal as a dentist is to help patients to create sustainable dental health, where their teeth will outlive them. Doing this requires me to look 20 or even 30 years in the future when planning out a course of treatment.
However, there are also things that patients can be doing to prolong the life of their teeth. At the top of this list is avoiding things that contribute to poor dental health.
Below are the top 10 things patients should avoid in order to maintain a healthy smile for years to come:
- Soda and other sugary drinks. Drinks that are high in sugar and acid, such as soda, fruit drinks and energy drinks, are one of the top causes of cavities and can cause a rather distinctive pattern of decay. That’s because the sugar in these drinks gets in every crevice in your mouth. Instead of soda, drink water – your teeth with thank you!
- Going to bed without brushing and flossing. Brushing and flossing your teeth should ALWAYS be a part of your nightly routine. Food that is left between your teeth will start to produce the acid (metabolites from bacteria) that creates cavities. This is a problem during the day. However, it is amplified at night because exposure is longer and many people do not have protection from adequate saliva as they sleep.
- Missing your scheduled dental visits. In addition to removing buildup of plaque and tartar, regular cleanings are a great opportunity to identify and monitor potential problems with your teeth. Catching problems early will result in treatment that is less invasive, less complicated and less costly.
- Waiting for pain to take action. When talking about your dental health, there are signs and there are symptoms. Pain is a symptom of a problem. Yet, there may be several signs that your dentist can catch before an issue presents any pain. Regular dental visits will ensure that these signs are identified and treatment is proactive.
- Regular use of breath mints and candies. We all want fresh breath. However, mints and candies such as Altoids, Red Hots and Werther’s Originals can do more harm than good. The sugar in these treats can eat away at your enamel, leaving lesions where they sit against your teeth and creating cavities from the sugar.
- Using your teeth as a tool. Your teeth were not designed to trim your nails and/or remove tags from your clothing. Doing so will wear away at the enamel and cause you to loose the edges of your teeth, which can cause a number of problems, including issues with your bite.
- Chewing ice. This should be a no-brainer, but it’s worth a reminder. Chewing ice is extremely damaging to your teeth and can chip away at your enamel and wear down your back teeth. In fact, this is the number-one cause of chipped back teeth.
- Clenching or grinding your teeth. Clenching or grinding teeth is a surefire way to prematurely wear away your enamel. If this is something that you struggle with – either during the day or while you sleep – seek out treatment sooner rather than later. Doing so may save your tooth structure.
- Putting off going to the dentist until you have insurance. Just because you don’t have dental insurance, doesn’t mean you can’t go to the dentist. A lot of patients don’t know that dental insurance is much different than health insurance and won’t save you that much money in the long run. If you’re experiencing pain or notice something is wrong, get to the dentist today – don’t wait until you have insurance coverage.
- Ignoring signs of dry mouth. Saliva contains a number of anti-cavity properties and is incredibly important to your dental health. Therefore, if your mouth is dry, it can cause problems. Don’t ignore these signs. There are a number of ways to prevent dry mouth, including oral rinses and staying hydrated. Dry mouth can also be a side-effect of certain medications. Talk to your doctor about your dosage and see if this helps.
If it’s been a while since you visited the dentist, the first step to creating sustainable dental health is to schedule a cleaning. Call our office at (813) 689-4226 to make your appointment today.