Recently, CBS News published an article on their website called “7 troublesome ways teens destroy their teeth,” in honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month. The article discusses some of the habits that are often displayed in teens that negatively affect their oral health, however I think that these poor behaviors are exhibited by adults too, and are just as, if not more, detrimental. The seven oral health no-no’s discussed were:
- Bulimia: It’s true that teens are notorious for poor body image, but many adults suffer from this as well. This eating disorder not only causes great physical and emotional damage, but it also destroys your teeth. Significant exposure to stomach acids, due to purging, dissolves protective enamel, causing abundant tooth decay.
- Drinking bottled water: Plastic bottles of water have replaced tap water in many households around the country. Teens and adults alike are missing out on an important aspect of dental care by foregoing water from the tap. Fluoride is a natural mineral that is found in drinking water, which helps to prevent tooth decay. If you’re not going to drink tap water, toothpaste with added fluoride is recommended.
- Chewing Tobacco: Teens typically use chewing tobacco as a more discreet way of abusing nicotine; however plenty of adults use the product too. Not only does chewing tobacco stain your teeth, cause bad breath, weaken tooth enamel, and damage gum tissue, it also causes oral cancer, which can be fatal if left untreated.
- Drinking citrus juice and sports drinks: These types of beverages are very popular among teens and adults alike. The sugar found in them does cause damage to the teeth, but it’s the acid that is really damaging. Again, enamel is the victim, as the acids weaken and destroy it, causing tooth decay. It is recommended to rinse your mouth with water immediately after consuming a high acid, sugary drink, in order to avoid excessive decay.
- Wearing mouth jewelry: Facial piercings have definitely gained popularity in recent years, and more and more people of all ages are getting their lips, tongues, and/or cheeks pierced. While the look may be considered “cool,” there are several complications that can go along with this fashion statement. There are millions of bacteria found in the mouth, which can cause serious infections. The jewelry itself can cause damage too, either by causing receding gums through constant contact, or chipping teeth accidentally.
- Chewing Ice: Oddly enough, some people chew ice on a regular basis. Whether it’s a nervous habit or a means to keep hunger at bay, this behavior can actually cause small fractures in your teeth. Not only do these fractures weaken your teeth, potentially causing large fractures later on, they also create crevices for bacteria to hide, which is how cavities are formed.
- Excessive Bleaching: Image is important to both kids and adults. Having a pearly white smile is very attractive, making it very desirable to many. With the convenience of at home products, many Americans have whitened their own teeth, which is perfectly safe if you follow the guidelines. But because the whitening is only temporary, many over-bleach to maintain that perfect smile, which can make your teeth painfully sensitive.
Regardless of age, the above seven habits are clearly not helpful when trying to achieve or maintain your oral health. As always, the best avenue to attain this important goal is to brush and floss regularly, along with visiting your dentist at least twice a year.