Did you know that a lot of little things you do (or don’t do) could be bad habits that are affecting your oral health? These include everything from not brushing or flossing enough, to eating too many sweets, to even using your teeth to open a bag of chips.
The Snowball Effect
Unfortunately, these bad oral habits (even the ones that seem harmless) can lead to bad oral hygiene over time — causing bad breath, tooth discoloration, red, swollen gums, cavities, gum disease and ultimately, tooth loss. It can affect not just your oral health, but also the following:
Chewing and speech. We need our teeth, all of our teeth. Not just for chewing food properly, but also for speaking properly. Just think how hard it would be to make a “TH” without your front teeth to use in the process.
Self-esteem. Swollen gums, bad breath and stained teeth – not to mention no teeth – can indeed put a damper on anyone’s confidence.
Finances. Delaying needed dental treatment by not visiting the dentist regularly can only cause more harm than good, even to your wallet. When treatment is necessary to save the teeth and bring the mouth back to optimum condition, a lot of dental procedures may have to be done and it can get costly.
Overall Health. Research has shown that gum disease is linked with health problems including heart disease, stroke, pneumonia and other systemic diseases. Bad oral health is also shown to increase the risk of pre-term delivery and low-birth-weight infants. Gum disease treatment not only improves your dental health, but can help improve your overall health as well.
Turn Your Bad Habits to Good Ones
Bad oral habits die hard, but they can be killed with better practices. Experts suggest the following tips:
*Floss at least once a day. It helps remove bits of food and dental plaque in places your toothbrush can’t find, helping to keep your gums healthy.
*Brush after every meal, or at least twice a day. If brushing is not an option, chew sugarless gum (make sure it’s sugarless!) for 20 minutes after a meal or snack to help wash away food and acid by increasing saliva production. This helps prevent tooth decay.
*Clean your tongue with every brushing, either with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper. Bacteria that settle on your tongue can cause bad breath, also known as halitosis.
*Replace your toothbrush regularly. Bristles in your toothbrush that are bent and broken don’t do a good job cleaning your teeth anymore and are clear signs to let your old toothbrush go.
*Eat a balanced diet. Snacking on sweets too often without brushing increases the acid in your mouth, giving you a higher risk of developing tooth decay. Munch on vegetables and fruit instead.
Regular Dental Visits. Your dentist is trained to do damage control in your mouth before it’s too late. You should visit the dentist regularly — every six months.
*Avoid using your teeth as tools. It has the same effect as chewing on hard objects like pencils and ice cubes – it can cause chipped or cracked teeth. You don’t live in the Stone Age, so there’s really no excuse to use your teeth to open a bottle of beer – the bottle opener was made for that. Tools are easier to replace than your teeth, which were really meant to last you a lifetime.
Adding these to your list one at a time is a good start to kick those bad oral habits. By doing a little self-check on your daily dental care habits, you can be on your way to making sure your teeth, your mouth’s health, and your overall health are at their best.