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What’s Damaging Your Teeth?

Posted 09-29-2014 04:56 PM by ChristaIB
Updated 10-06-2014 03:37 PM by ChristaIB

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If you're a certain age, you may notice that your teeth aren’t as white as they used to be. Some teeth may have chipped, cracked, fallen out or been otherwise damaged. Your enamel may be worn so thin that hot or cold fluids cause pain. So, what’s damaging your teeth and what can you do about it? We might just have the answer.

The Most Common Teeth Destroyers

Our teeth are strong, but at the same time, they are vulnerable to wear and tear. Enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth, and it can be damaged by a number of things. Contrary to what some believe, once enamel is lost, it does not grow back. Rather, repairing eroded enamel requires professional care from a dentist.

To protect what enamel you have left, you should understand what’s causing it to wear down. The same goes for your gums, which function by holding your teeth in place and protecting the roots of your teeth from bacteria and decay. However, like enamel, the protection it provides can only go so far.

Acids

Acids are found in our stomach and in some of the foods and drinks we consume. When acid makes contact with our teeth, it can eat away at the enamel, leaving your teeth vulnerable to decay and gum disease.

Bacteria

Bacteria occur naturally in your mouth. Bacteria feed on the food residue that clings to your teeth, which can wear down the enamel. If you have dry mouth, or low saliva production, that allows bacteria to fester and grow.

Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, often occurs at night while you are sleeping and unaware, but it may also occur during the day, particularly if you are stressed out or feeling anxious. Some people are natural teeth grinders, regardless of their mood or setting. Whatever the reason, grinding is tough on your teeth. When your teeth are grinding, the friction and pressure from the bite can cause the teeth to wear down.

Tartar

Tartar is a clear film of bacteria that covers your teeth. After eating or drinking certain liquids, if the teeth are not brushed, this film builds up and adheres to the gums and teeth, causing bacteria to eat away at the enamel and open the door for tooth decay.

Plaque

Plaque is hardened tartar that collects at the base of your teeth. Plaque can grow under your gums, separating them from your teeth and allowing bacteria to travel to the roots.

Smoking

Smoking contributes to circulatory problems and can cause reduced blood flow to your gums. Reduced blood flow causes the gums to shrink, or recede, which can contribute to tooth damage and tooth loss.

How to Avoid Harming Your Teeth

• Brush your teeth at least twice a day, using an enamel-protecting toothpaste with fluoride and tartar control

• Floss after each brushing session

• Rinse with a fluoride-based, anti-bacterial mouth wash

• Have regular dental checkups

• Rinse your mouth after consuming acidic foods

• Reduce your intake of sugary or starchy foods

• Reduce your consumption of acidic beverages like soda, coffee, or fruit juice

• Drink plenty of water

• Avoid smoking and illegal drugs

• Seek treatment for dry mouth, or low saliva production

• Seek treatment for acid reflux, or GERD

• Wear a bite guard to prevent teeth grinding

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