Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in your body. Covering the outer layer of your teeth and made primarily of minerals, tooth enamel is vitally important when it comes to protecting your teeth from decay. It also provides that pearly, white sheen that makes a great smile. Yet, because tooth enamel is not made up of any living cells, it doesn’t regenerate. In other words, it’s important to proactively protect it.
Good oral hygiene habits like brushing, flossing and getting regular professional cleanings help keep acid and plaque from eroding your tooth enamel. Yet, many of us unknowingly damage our tooth enamel with seemingly harmless habits. If you want to protect your teeth now and into the future, read these dental don’ts.
- Downing Too Much Diet Soda
With ongoing concern over the risks of sugar, many have made the switch to diet soda. While this sugar-free beverage has no calories, it can lead to dental erosion when it’s consumed in large quantities. In fact, one study showed a similar pattern of dental erosion in diet soda drinkers as in drug abusers who use methamphetamine or crack cocaine. If you do choose to drink diet soda, do so in moderation. And, brush teeth soon after drinking it to minimize the damage caused by the acid in the soda.
- Chomping on Ice Cubes
A lot of individuals enjoy the cold crunch of an ice cube. However, because ice is so hard, it can cause small cracks in your teeth and damage enamel. Chewing ice is also hard on dental work. To keep your teeth strong, ditch the cubes and grab something crunchy and nutritious like a stalk of celery or an apple.
- Beginning the Day with a Cup of Hot Water and Lemon
Many nutrition and diet experts recommend this drink as an early morning alternative to coffee or tea. Although, it’s a great way to get some vitamin C, it’s not good for tooth enamel. Lemon is highly acidic and can weaken tooth enamel and discolor teeth. If you really enjoy this otherwise healthy elixir, it might be wise to sip it from a straw to avoid exposure with your teeth.
- Switching to Fluoride-Free Toothpaste
Despite the proven benefits of fluoride, there are critics that believe that fluoride is a cause of chronic health problems. While these risks have not been proven, some have shifted to “all natural”, fluoride-free toothpastes. Most of these products have stronger abrasives that can damage enamel, as well as no fluoride to protect teeth.
- Brushing Too Hard
Along with damaging your gums, over-brushing, even with a soft nylon bristle toothbrush, can brush away enamel that can’t be rejuvenated. A lighter hand with a toothbrush made with flexible, rubber bristles is a better approach to getting clean teeth. This material, which is similar to that used by dental professionals, protects tooth enamel and gums, while effectively cleaning teeth.