With the New Year come resolutions to alter bad behaviors of the past, so resolve to preserve that great smile. As you raise your glass in a midnight toast, pay attention to what your choice of liquids can do to your teeth.
Are you a wine drinker? The acids in wine may eat away at tooth enamel, creating rough spots more vulnerable to staining. Red wine contains a deep pigment called chromogen and tannins, which help the color stick to the teeth. This combination makes it easy for the wine's red color to stay with you long after your glass is empty. You might think sticking to white wine would spare your teeth, but the acids still weaken the enamel, leaving the teeth porous and vulnerable to staining from other beverages, such as coffee. Swishing with water after drinking or using toothpaste with a mild whitening agent can fight the staining effects of red and white wines.
The dark color and acidity of the morning coffee we love can cause yellowing of the teeth over time. Fortunately, it's one of the easiest stains to treat with various whitening methods.
Cigarettes and tobacco products can stain teeth and cause them to fall out as a result of gum disease. Tobacco can also cause cancer of the mouth, lips, and tongue. If you were looking for one more reason to quit, think of your smile.
All sugary treats promote tooth decay, but cut back on the worst offenders. Gummies stick in the teeth, keeping sugar and resulting acids in contact with your enamel for hours. If your day just isn't the same without a gummy critter fix, pop a couple during a meal instead of as a separate snack. More saliva is produced during meals, which helps rinse away candy bits and acids.
During cough and cold season, we all try to calm that annoying tickle. Cough drops are sold in the medicine aisle but it doesn’t make them health food. Most are loaded with sugar so be sure to rinse and brush well. Bacteria in the plaque on your teeth converts the sugar into an acid that eats away at tooth enamel.
Candy isn't the only sugar culprit; sodas can have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving, with phosphoric and citric acids which eat away at tooth enamel. Diet soft drinks skip the sugar, but they may have even more acid in the form of the artificial sweeteners. Those refreshing sports drinks are also high in sugar. Like soda or candy, sugary sports drinks create an acid attack on the enamel of your teeth. Yes, fruit juice is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, but some juices can have as much sugar per serving as soda. A better way to stay hydrated is to chug sugar-free, calorie-free water. It also helps to rinse your teeth and mouth between brushings.
When is water not good? You might think ice is harmless, but munching on hard, frozen cubes can chip or even crack your teeth. If your unconscious chomping irritates the soft tissue inside a tooth, regular toothaches may follow. Hot foods and cold foods may trigger quick, sharp jabs of pain or a lingering toothache.
We are a nation of nibblers. Snacking produces less saliva than a meal, leaving food bits in your teeth for hours longer. Avoid snacking too frequently and stick to snacks that are low in sugar and starch, like celery and carrot sticks.
There are lots of other ways we can resolve to preserve our smiles. Football, hockey and contact sports call for a mouth guard; the piece of molded plastic that protects the upper row of teeth.
Tongue piercings may be trendy, but biting down on the metal stud can crack a tooth. Lip piercings pose a similar risk. Metal rubbing against the gums can cause gum damage that may lead to tooth loss. Your mouth is a haven for bacteria, so piercings raise the risk of infections and sores.
Stress and sleeping habits may cause teeth grinding, or bruxism, wearing teeth down over time. Avoiding hard foods during the day and talk to your dentist about wearing a mouth guard at night.
Are you a pencil or pen chewer? Like crunching on ice, this habit can cause teeth to chip or crack. Sugarless gum will trigger the flow of saliva, which can make teeth stronger.
Opening bottle caps or plastic packaging with your teeth may be convenient, but it makes dentists cringe. Using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip. Instead, keep scissors and bottle openers handy. Remember, your teeth should only be used for eating.
Changing small habits can impact your teeth is a big way. Talk to your dentist about the best way to preserve a healthy smile for years to come. Happy New Year!