Your teeth are built tough, which is fortunately considering how much wear and tear you subject them to on a daily basis. Despite this abuse, your teeth can last a lifetime as long as you practice quality oral hygiene. Still, the daily grind that comes with grinding, brushing, and chewing, along with the occasional accident, can take a toll on the health of your teeth. To understand the dangers your teeth face, and how to avoid them, here are the three biggest threats to the health of your teeth.
Broken, Fractured, or Chipped Teeth
Accidentally biting down on a popcorn kernel, olive pit, stale bread, or other unfortunately hard item can cause a tooth to become chipped or fractured. While uncommon, this type of break usually occurs to teeth that have undergone a root canal or contain a dental filling, but it can happen to any healthy tooth as well. Most often this type of injury occurs as a result of a sports injury or accident.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help avoid these types of dental injuries. If your back molars contain fillings, try to avoid biting down on hard foods such as ice, hard candy, and bones. If you or your children play sports, even if non-contact, always wear a mouth guard. A 2002 study found that college basketball players significantly reduced their risk of injury when wearing a mouth guard. You can purchase mouth guards at most sporting goods stores or talk with your dentist about getting a custom-fitted mouth guard.
A condition referred to as bruxism, teeth grinding can cause serious long-term health problems for your teeth. Your teeth are designed to chew and grind food, but unconscious clenching or grinding of the teeth can damage the surface of the chewing area over time.
Chronic grinding can cause micro-cracks to form in your teeth’s enamel, which makes them more susceptible to decay and can even wear down your molars pointed surfaces. In addition to making eating more difficult, bruxism can also cause jaw injury, muscle pain, and headaches. Since tooth grinding is often done unconsciously, most people fail to realize they even suffer from the condition until told so by their dentist. Teeth grinding ranks as just another reason why you need to schedule regular dental checkups.
Studies have shown that stress ranks as the most common cause of teeth grinding. If you suffer from the condition, consider learning a few stress management techniques, such as yoga or meditation, or engaging in more regular exercise to help reduce stress. Since the most frequent time people grind their teeth is when asleep, talk with your dentist about whether wearing a dental mouth guard at night could help improve your condition.
Despite your teeth’s durability, they still become vulnerable when exposed to high levels of acidity in the mouth. Oral acids erode away the strength of tooth enamel, causing your teeth to become more vulnerable to decay. The two primary causes of mouth acidity are foods and drinks high in acidity, and bacteria in the mouth that produce acid. Fortunately both can be treated by brushing and flossing daily.
By brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time and flossing at least once a day, you can remove harmful bacteria in the mouth that produce harmful acids. If your diet contains a high number of acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, and olives, you should consider ending most meals with a slice of cheese or glass of milk, both of which contain agents that naturally neutralize mouth acids.
As one of the premiere dentists in Sonora, Dr. Paul Berger and his friendly staff would love to answer any questions about teeth health.