You want to keep your teeth healthy, so you do your best to brush regularly, floss and use mouthwash, all of which make for a great start. But while you care for your teeth in the morning and night, your daily habits (even those that seem helpful) could be having a negative effect on your good oral hygiene. Whether it's guzzling a can of diet soda or tearing through a bag of chips with your teeth, bad daily habits could add up to big damage in the long run. But it's just as easy to keep things strong in there. Trade out that bad behavior and save your teeth.
Brushing Too Hard
Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing! Brushing your teeth too hard can cause enamel erosion rather than a healthier mouth. The American Dental Association suggests brushing your teeth gently and in wide strokes to clean your teeth — no need to scrub. If you find that the temptation to brush hard is too much for you, invest in a soft-bristled toothbrush, such as the Colgate® Slim Soft™, which has thinner, more flexible bristles so it's less abrasive without sacrificing hygiene.
Another time to go easy on your teeth is after eating acidic foods. While your first good oral hygiene instinct might be to brush away the acid, the Mayo Clinic warns that doing so could couple the erosion of the acidic foods with the heavy abrasion of the toothbrush, resulting in enamel damage. Instead, try chewing a piece of sugar-free gum after eating acidic foods. It'll stimulate saliva flow to wash away excess acid without hurting your teeth.
We're all guilty of using our teeth as a tool. Whether it's shortening your fingernails or tearing through a plastic package, using your teeth as a pair of clippers or scissors could be setting you up for chipped teeth and other damage. Of course, the best way to avoid that damage is to quit eating non-foods altogether, but that might be easier said than done.
If you find yourself biting a plastic package or opening a ream of paper with your teeth, it might be a good idea to pick up a key ring multi-tool the next time you're at the hardware store. With tools like small scissors, a nail file and clippers inside, keeping a tool on your key ring means you'll never have to resort to using your teeth as a Swiss Army knife again.
Choosing Soda — Even Diet
We all know sugary drinks are bad for your teeth because they promote bacterial growth. But what about soda that doesn't contain any sugar, like diet varieties? Well, choosing diet soda definitely doesn't contribute to good oral hygiene. In fact, it might be the acidity found in sodas that can do the most damage. The Mississippi State Department of Health measured the acidity in different drinks, using battery acid (with an acidity value of 6) as the comparable. Both regular and diet cola were more than half as acidic as battery acid; proof that indulging too often can damage your tooth enamel. Your best bet? Switch to water, which has an acidity value of zero.
We all have bad habits, but some are definitely worse than others when it comes to your oral hygiene. By recognizing areas of improvement, you can find ways to kick them altogether. Simple swaps like a softer toothbrush or a water bottle could end up making a big difference on your dental health.