If going to the dentist isn’t exactly your favorite annual appointment, you’re not alone. According to a 2018 survey from the American Dental Association (ADA), just 58 percent of Americans visit the dentist in an average year. However, skipping those check-ups is just one of the many ways you’re likely harming your teeth. With the help of dentists, we’ve rounded up all the surprising habits that could be causing your teeth irreparable harm.
While opting for carbonated water instead of sugary drinks may get a thumbs up from your general practitioner, the same can’t be said for your dentist. According to Adam Silevitch, DMD, a partner at Pediatric Dentists NYC, seltzer can cause serious problems for those who drink it regularly. “Even if it’s unflavored, it contains carbonic acid, which can wear away tooth enamel,” says Silevitch. While you may be unwilling to ditch that soda water entirely, drinking more non-carbonated water in addition to the fizzy stuff can help.
Though a squeeze of lemon might do wonders for your water, the fruit’s acidity can harm the protective layer of enamel on your teeth, according to the dentists at Watts Family Dental in Overland Park, Kansas. “A good rule of thumb when preparing a 32-ounce bottle of lemon water is to add only the equivalent of about half a lemon. That should be plenty of lemon juice for a single day,” the dentists advise.
When you brush immediately after consuming foods and beverages high in acidic properties, like orange juice and other citrus products, it can harm your teeth, according to the experts at Colgate. Eating acidic foods weakens your enamel and brushing weakened enamel can cause it to erode. To avoid this potential decay, wait at least 30 minutes for your enamel to settle before brushing your teeth.
You definitely can have too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to brushing your teeth. “This might sound counterintuitive, but brushing hard with a hard-bristled toothbrush can damage your teeth and harm your gums,” says Silevitch. Instead, to avoid irritating your gums and damaging your teeth, gently massage them with a soft- to medium-bristled toothbrush for two minutes, two or more times each day.
If you’re snoring or breathing through your mouth at night, you’re doing more damage than just drooling on your pillowcase. “Mouth breathing is a daily habit that can wreak havoc on the teeth,” says Sharona Dayan, DDS, DMSc, a board certified periodontist and founder of Aurora Periodontal Care in Beverly Hills. When you breathe through your mouth, she explains, you rapidly dry out your oral tissues, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. The solution? Getting tested for allergies or a deviated septum can help with the anatomical components, while behavioral modification for daytime mouth-breathing can help quell the problem during the day.
Toothpicks may seem like a helpful tool when it comes to removing those last bits of dinner from in between your