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Protect Your Teeth: Eight Habits to Stop

Update Date: May 03, 2013 02:51 PM EDT

The mouth is an important part of the human body. It allows for nourishment as well as communication, which is why it is important to keep this area clean and healthy. Many dentists have recommended daily brushing and flossing. However, it seems that even though these two routines could prevent gum disease, they might not be enough to protect the teeth. In a new article, Dr. Sarita Arteaga, associate professor in the Department of Reconstructive Sciences at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, listed a total of eight common habits that people should consider stopping in order to protect their teeth.

The first and probably the most obvious piece of advice is to remember to brush softly and avoid applying too much pressure. Brushing your teeth too hard can destroy enamel, recede and irritate gums, increase teeth sensitivity, and lead to cavities. Since one should not brush hard, getting rid of certain food pieces that are lodged in between teeth might be hard, which is why relying on floss is very important. However, some people might pick up toothpicks, particularly at restaurants where floss is not as easily accessible, which leads to rule number two. Using toothpick can help with keeping the mouth clean, but it must be done gently. Toothpicks are sharp and when used aggressively, they can do a lot of damage on the gums.

Recommendations three to six would probably be the hardest ones to quit. According to Arteaga, chewing ice cubes can harm the teeth because ice is generally too hard and too cold for the teeth to handle daily. Therefore, regardless of how hot it may be, do not chew ice. Rule number four is to stop nail biting. For some people who have picked up this particular habit, they have said that nail biting is often a mechanism that helps soothe them in certain situations. However, daily nail biting can lead to unwanted teeth movement and even cause tooth enamel to splinter. Following along the same lines as nail biting, number five on this list recommends people to stop using their teeth for other tasks that do not include eating. For example, people often use their teeth to open or rip packages, which can damage the teeth and cause cracks. Rule number six is to avoid eating soda and sugars as much as possible. Sugars found in candy, soda, and other foods can lead to tooth decay and loss of enamel.

Aside from these six recommendations, Arteaga also stated that people should avoid tooth grinding, which is unfortunately often done unconsciously. Tooth grinding puts too much pressure on the teeth, leading to possible micro or actual fractures in the teeth. The last recommendation is to avoid oral piercings. Not only do oral piercings hinder speech, they can also damage the gums, teeth and fillings.

In order to keep teeth healthy, remember these eight no-nos. 

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