Maybe you think you’re doing everything right for your teeth and gums: you brush twice per day using correct technique. You floss daily. You visit us at Smiles of Punta Gorda for a cleaning and exam every six months. You steer clear of candy, soft drinks, and the obvious tooth-decay culprits.

And all that is great.

But if you engage in any of the following behaviors, you may end up sabotaging your best efforts. This year, we urge you to put an end to these destructive dental habits. Your reward will be better oral health and better overall health — for 2018, and for the rest of your life.

Don’t forget to book your next dental checkup with Smiles of Punta Gorda. Call our office in Punta Gorda, FL at 941-585-0424.

Smoking and Tobacco Use

We don’t have to tell you that smoking (and other tobacco products) are really bad news for your entire body. They have absolutely no redeeming qualities, causing cancer, lung disease, and myriad other health problems.

So it shouldn’t be much of a suprise that tobacco is harmful for your dental health specifically.

  • Tobacco turns your teeth yellow, dulls your sense of taste, and makes your breath smell bad.
  • Smokers tend to have high amounts of plaque and tartar on their teeth. They are at an increased risk for gum disease over non-smokers. Also, their periodontal disease is often resistant to treatment.
  • Tobacco users take longer to heal from extractions and other oral surgical procedures.
  • Tobacco use increases your likelihood of developing oral cancer.

Clenching and Grinding Teeth

Teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism) is harmful on a number of fronts. It may wear down your enamel, damage gums, break teeth, lead to headaches and TMJ pain, and affect your bite, or how your teeth fit together. Teeth grinding often happens at night as you sleep, and it’s not easy to correct on your own. Stress is often a factor, so eliminating sources of stress may help (or at least developing techniques to handle it more effectively).

At Smiles of Punta Gorda, we can help your bruxism with a custom-made mouthguard. The guard, which you wear at night, prevents grinding and keeps your jaw in a position that enables it to relax and heal.

“Grazing” or Continuous Snacking

Before you reach for that bag of pretzels stashed in your desk drawer, perhaps consider the effect that continuous nibbling has on your teeth (not to mention your waistline). When you snack, bacteria multiply in your mouth and unleash acids that begin to destroy your tooth enamel. So if you snack throughout the day, you are basically putting your teeth under constant attack. It doesn’t help that snack foods tend to be high in sugar and other carbs, which are what bacteria crave. Drinking soft drinks also triggers acid attacks on your teeth. Even diet soft drinks are a problem: they don’t contain sugar, but they are high in acid.

If you must snack, choose low-carb tooth-healthy options like raw vegetables, an apple, cheese, or a handful of nuts. And wash it all down with a glass of tap water.

Overzealous Brushing

You love taking care of your teeth and want to make sure you do the best job possible. You have to scrub hard to remove all that nasty plaque, right? Well, no. We love that you are passionate about oral hygiene, but brushing too hard will harm, not help, your pearly whites. The key to keeping your teeth clean and healthy is to be thorough but gentle. Using excessive force will remove your enamel right along with the plaque and even injure your gums. And that makes you vulnerable to pain, sensitivity, cavities, and gum recession. So use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a light hand.

Chewing on Objects

Our teeth are designed to process food to enable us to swallow it. They are not designed to chew on pencils, crunch on ice cubes, or gnaw on fingernails. Nor are they a good substitute for scissors or other tools if you have a bag to open or clothing tag to remove.

Your teeth are strong, but not indestructible. Using them to chew or pull on hard, non-food objects may land you in our office with a broken, chipped, or cracked tooth. Would you rather go look for those scissors or risk a dental emergency?

Banish these habits and practice good oral hygiene for a smile that remains beautiful and healthy for life. And book your next checkup at Smiles of Punta Gorda. Reach out through our online contact form or call our Punta Gorda, FL office at 941-585-0424.