Avoid These Habits to Protect Your Teeth

Many common habits result in unhealthy teeth. Here are six things to avoid:

1. Acidic foods. Acidic foods can soften tooth enamel, which is a good thing, because softer enamel means your teeth are more vulnerable to wear. But acidic foods also weaken tooth enamel, and this puts you especially at risk for dental erosion.

2. Sticky foods. Sticky foods cause plaque to stick to teeth. Plaque is a sticky, yellowish substance made up of bacteria, saliva, and food particles. Plaque sticks to teeth, where it turns into tartar. If plaque and tartar get beneath your gums, they can cause gingivitis, an infection of the gums, which can lead to tooth loss.

3. Hard foods. Hard foods also cause plaque to stick to teeth. And because they cause more tooth wear than softer foods, hard foods can also affect your enamel thickness and increase your risk for dental erosion.

4. Tobacco products. Tobacco leaves a sticky film on teeth, which gives it a rough texture. Another effect of tobacco use is nicotine, which stimulates the growth of bacteria in the mouth. Nicotine also can cause dry mouth, which can increase the growth of bacteria in your mouth.

5. Sugar. Sugary foods feed the dental plaque bacteria. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, limit the amount of sugar you eat.

6. Hard drinks. Although they don’t cause dental erosion, hard drinks contain acids that can harm teeth. They can also encourage the growth of bacteria in your mouth that can cause cavities.

You only get one set for your teeth. Do what you can to keep them strong. The leading cause of tooth loss is tooth decay, caused by bacteria.
Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day, preferably after every meal and before bedtime. Spend a little time each day flossing between your teeth. This removes plaque that a toothbrush can’t reach. Visit your dentist regularly: at least twice a year. Good dental hygiene means keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Susan Kowal
Susan Kowal is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor/advisor, and health enthusiast.