More ways you may be ruining your teeth

Last week we looked at how your diet could be ruining your teeth, and for many, that may lead to a panicky reaction involving extra brushing, whitening and more. In theory, your teeth should be thanking you for the added attention, but in reality you may once again be doing them more harm than good.

And apart from the extra attention you may be paying to your teeth, do you pay enough to the other factors that may be doing them harm?

Let’s take a look at why your extra-attentive oral care may just be a little too much, and how things such as stress and grinding can ruin your teeth.

Using whitening toothpaste

Toothpaste that claims to whiten your teeth is actually quite abrasive, and even though it may remove coffee, red wine and cigarette stains from your teeth, it may also be wearing your teeth away. So it’s best to use a milder toothpaste and brush a bit more often instead.

Using whitening strips

Watching all those pretty young things with their bright smiles on the television can lead you to pine for whiter teeth too. And with the huge range of teeth-whitening products available on the market, it’s no surprise that the appeal of super white teeth is so strong. Ultra-white teeth that once would have cost a fortune can now be had for under $20. But wait – there’s a catch.

Just think, anything that’s strong enough to remove a tooth stain has got to be nasty on your gums. They are much softer than teeth, if you hadn’t already noticed. So long as you keep the strips on the stained part of your teeth, you should be okay. It’s when the strip slips onto your gums that you’ll have trouble.

Sloppy application of whitening strips can lead to uncomfortable irritation and gum recession, which, in turn, can require a surgical procedure to correct. So if you’re into DIY cosmetic care, make sure you’re very cautious with those strips, or you’ll strip away more than just stains.

Grinding

If you wake each day with an ache in your jaw or head, then chances are you’re a grinder. Grinding can cause your teeth to become loose, jeopardising not only your teeth, but also the bones around your teeth. It can even lead to aggressive periodontal disease and facial collapse, which will make you look older. All very unpleasant.

The best way to combat grinding is to wear a thick retainer or mouthguard when you sleep. Also, try to be aware of yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth during the day, as awareness is the first step towards sorting it out.

Overbrushing

They say you should brush three times a day, and that’s okay, only you may be brushing so hard that you’re wearing your teeth away – literally. When you brush too hard, you expose the root area of your tooth, which can’t stand up to harsh scrubbing. It can also hurt your gums and cause them to recede.

So, if you want to keep the dentist away, be nice and gentle when you brush, okay? It may also pay you to use a brush with softer bristles too.

Biting things

The only things that belong in your mouth are your teeth, your tongue, the food you eat, the odd beverage, your toothbrush and dental floss. Fingernails, toothpicks, pens, paperclips and other objects should stay in your hands or on your desk.

The nasty habit of biting your nails or putting things in your mouth is an oral fixation that can lead to a gum defect known as gingival clefts. Translation: small splits in your gums that expose the roots of your teeth. It’s a painful condition, and one which should be deterrent enough to make your mouth a sacred temple to your teeth and not a nest for your fingers. If you can’t resist, see your doctor or dentist and ask them for help.

Stress

Yep, stress is already a catalyst for a cache of health problems, and you can also add teeth to the list. The gums are an indicator of your health, and stress, being bad for you, breaks down your gums and surrounding tissue, which can then lead to periodontal disease. So the next time you feel the pressure rising, take stock of your situation, relax your jaw and take a deep breath. Your teeth and gums will be most grateful.

So, there you have it. You may think you’re doing the right thing by your pearly whites, but sometimes you can give them a little too much love. Get the balance right, and you’ll have shiny whites for life.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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