5 Everyday Habits That Erode Your Tooth Enamel

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Preventing Gum Disease with Dental Implants

Protecting Your Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel is one of those things that most of us rarely think about until it’s gone. Fortunately, as the hardest substance in your body, it’s designed to last a lifetime. Yet, it can erode, and many are surprised to discover that it doesn’t regenerate.

Along with giving your teeth that pearly white sheen that showcases a healthy smile, tooth enamel plays an important role in protecting your teeth from decay. It acts as a barrier to protect the deeper layers of your teeth from acid and plaque and helps minimize sensitivity you would otherwise feel from very hot or cold food.

Although, tooth enamel is made primarily of minerals and is incredibly strong, it can be damaged and even destroyed by a few common habits that many of us have. The following proactive tips can help ensure you’re protecting this very important part of your teeth.

Avoid Hard Candy and Ice Cubes

Chomping on hard foods can cause tooth enamel to chip or crack. While biting down on that piece of ice or candy may be tempting, you’re risking tooth damage. If you do enjoy these hard items, make sure to suck on them instead of biting down. Better yet, avoid them altogether.

Stay Away from Soda (and Diet Soda)

It seems logical that a diet soda would be better for your teeth than one that contains sugar. However, dental erosion also happens in those who consume large quantities of diet sodas. In fact, a study published in General Dentistry showed a similar pattern of dental erosion in avid diet soda drinkers as in drug abusers who use methamphetamine or crack cocaine. The study connected the acid in both soda and diet soda with dental erosion. When enamel eroded  from continued soda intake, the study participants teeth became more susceptible to cavities and other dental problems.

Stop Overbrushing Your Teeth

Many of us think brushing our teeth harder means cleaner teeth. But, over time, it really leads to wearing away tooth enamel, as well as gum tissue. The end result is dental decay, the progression of gum disease and finally tooth loss. The best approach to teeth cleaning is gentle brushing with an ultra soft toothbrush that protects gum and tooth enamel.

Time Your Brushing

Besides soda, there are plenty of other foods and beverages that can erode tooth enamel. Yet, brushing your teeth too soon after eating or drinking these items can be damaging by actually brushing the acid into your teeth, rather than getting rid of it. A better approach is to rinse with water after consuming acidic foods and beverages and wait a half hour or so before brushing your teeth.  

Stay Hydrated

Saliva is a natural protectant of tooth enamel by rinsing away damaging acid and bacteria. Dehydration causes reduced saliva production which means your teeth aren’t getting the cleaning they need to protect enamel. Along with being beneficial to your overall health, drinking enough water each day is important for protecting your tooth enamel.

How To Prevent Cavities with Dr Jack Gruber DDS

How To Prevent Cavities with Dr Jack Gruber DDS

Dr. Jack Gruber DDS, the creator of the PeriClean Ultra Soft Toothbrush for Receding Gums, discusses how to prevent cavities based on his 40 years of experience as a Periodontist.

Preventing Dental Caries in Adults

Preventing Dental Caries in Adults

Many people believe that dental caries (cavities) only occur in childhood. Unfortunately, adults don’t outgrow the risk of developing this common dental condition. In fact, 27% of American adults currently have untreated tooth decay.

While an individual’s oral hygiene typically improves in adulthood which can help reduce the risk of dental caries, there are often other habits at play that can increase the development of tooth decay. Some dental experts believe that there is even an increasing trend in adult dental caries. Let’s look at some of the reasons why this may be happening.

Diet

Cavities are closely linked to diet. Although most adults aren’t loading up on candy and soda, they are often getting hidden sources of sugar in unexpected places. Some of the sneaky foods and beverages that can promote dental decay include:

  • Fruit juice
  • Vitamin and sports drinks
  • Dried fruit
  • Milk
  • Cereal
  • Energy bars
  • Coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos

Over-Brushing

Rigorous tooth-brushing with a nylon bristle brush can also be a cavity culprit. This common habit can lead to receding gums. As roots become exposed, they become vulnerable to decay and the development of dental caries. Gentle brushing around the gum line twice a day can go a long way towards keeping teeth (and gums) healthy.

Old Fillings

Many adults have fillings that are decades old. These often weaken and even fracture which can produce gaps between the filing material and the tooth. Tooth decay can develop in these gaps causing new, larger cavities to form. One of the many reasons why routine dental visits are important is to check old filings for wear and tear. Those that are beginning to weaken should be replaced. In some cases, it may warrant a crown or additional endodontic treatment, such as a root canal.

A Proactive Approach to Preventing Adult Dental Caries

Along with regular brushing, there are other strategies for minimizing the risk of developing dental caries.

  • Use a fluoride toothpaste and rinse
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Eat a well-balanced diet low in sugar and heavy starches
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Minimize coffee, soda and alcohol

Of course, it’s also important to have twice yearly dental checkups. Professional cleaning and polishing can remove stubborn plaque and tartar that leads to cavities. And, with a thorough visual exam and x-rays, a dental professional can detect early signs of tooth decay before they become big problems.

What was Periodontics like in 1973?

What was Periodontics like in 1973?

Hear Dr. Jack Gruber talk about what periodontics was like in the 1970’s.

What is the Patient’s Role in the Care of the Mouth?

Watch Dr. Jack Gruber discuss the patient’s role in the care of the mouth. Learn to prevent gum disease and receding gums in this PeriClean dental health library video.

Rethinking Outdated Dental Advice

In August 2016, the New York Times surprised many Americans with its article, “Feeling Guilty About Not Flossing? Maybe There’s No Need.” Questioning the accuracy of research studies promoting the virtues of daily flossing, the article revealed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services had quietly eliminated recommendations on flossing in their most recent dietary guidelines. This left many diligent dental patients wondering if the dental advice they’ve followed for years may need some updating.

The NY Times article certainly generated a fair amount of controversy. Many dental experts offered their opinion as the issue played out in both dental offices and public forums. The larger point was dentistry suddenly found itself in the news, which is rare. The situation presented an opportunity for dentists to reach out to their patients and communicate their thoughts on the topic, as well as other issues impacting their patients’ dental health.

Although there have been many innovations in dentistry, there are also strategies and tools that haven’t been carefully considered in generations. The nylon-bristle toothbrush is one such example. First invented more than 80 years ago, there has been minimal advancement in its design since then. Because there is plenty of evidence that nylon-bristle brushes can contribute to gum recession and be a contributing factor in periodontal disease, the time has come to look at alternatives that can effectively clean teeth while protecting fragile gums? This was the impetus for the development of the PeriClean. By replacing abrasive nylon bristles with gentle rubber bristles, food and plaque can be brushed away without the risk of overbrushing.

Dentists as Thought Leaders
With patients having access to an unlimited amount of dental-related content via the Internet, they appreciate, more than ever, the expert advice from a dentist who has taken the time to sort through the hype and offer the most up-to-date, accurate dental advice. In some cases, this may mean contradicting an eye-catching headline. It may also include recommending tips, strategies and tools that may challenge the tried and true practices that we’ve all grown up with over the years. Like with any aspect of healthcare, knowledge is powerful when it comes to dentistry. Dental professionals, who are able to stay on top of the latest innovations, will find that the added benefit of being a true thought leader with valuable advice provides a powerful way to build and sustain a loyal patient base.

Why Roll the Dice with Your Dental Health?

You brush, floss and rinse on a daily basis. But you probably don’t give your teeth and gums much further thought unless you’re experiencing a toothache or sitting in your dentist’s office for your twice-yearly cleaning. Many individuals are caught off-guard when they’re told by their dentist they have periodontitis, commonly referred to as gum disease. It’s a rude awakening to be informed that dental problems don’t just plague those who have poor dental health hygiene. They can and do affect even those who take the most diligent care of their teeth and gums.

Periodontitis — periodontal disease — is an epidemic among Americans. In fact, one out of every two over the age of 30 has some form of the disease. In those 65 or older, the rate increases to more than 70 percent. This chronic, inflammatory disease affects gum tissue and bone and if not treated, can lead to a host of problems, including bleeding gums and tooth loss. Many individuals are also surprised to find out that gum disease has been linked to a variety of serious conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Gum disease is not something to ignore. And, if you’ve been told you’re already showing early signs of the disease, it’s time to take some proactive steps to preserve your teeth and gums.

Think Beyond Your Toothpaste
Once told that you have periodontal disease, you may wonder if a change of toothpaste or a new dental rinse will be enough to treat the problem and improve your general dental health. This is highly unlikely. Today’s toothpastes and rinses are highly effective at protecting teeth from developing cavities, but they do not prevent the impact of over-brushing – a leading cause of receding gums, sensitive teeth and subsequent gum disease. Rather, one of the most beneficial steps in protecting your gums is to replace your toothbrush with an alternative that is less abrasive and damaging to fragile gum tissue.

Many people are surprised to find out that even supposedly “soft” toothbrushes can wreak havoc on gums – especially by those who tend to brush aggressively. Yes, many of us were told that we were getting our teeth cleaner if we brushed longer and harder. This is simply not the truth and ironically a leading cause of dental health problems. Along with brushing away gum tissue, over-brushing also weakens tooth enamel which can lead to tooth decay and yellowing of the teeth.

Look at Your Dental Hygienists Tools
So, you may be asking what you should use to clean your teeth and care for your gums if you’re not supposed to use a traditional toothbrush. When your dental hygienist professionally cleans your teeth, the polishing tool has a rubber tip. It’s not abrasive, and it’s designed to gently clean and polish. This is the idea behind the PeriClean specialty toothbrush. Ultra-soft, flexible and strong enough to brush away food particles and plaque, it’s gentle on your gums — and does wonders for superior dental health!

Don’t Ignore Your Dentist’s Warning
If your dentist has alerted you that you have gum disease (such as periodontal disease) or are at risk of developing it, don’t ignore the problem. And don’t think that simply changing your toothpaste is the answer. Work with your dentist and use a toothbrush that protects your gums and teeth. With the right strategy, you will have the best chance of keeping your teeth and avoiding the inconvenience of dentures or the high price of dental implants.

How to Ensure You and Your Family Have Healthy Teeth and Gums

From a baby’s first tooth to visits from the tooth fairy to twice yearly dental visits, and braces, childhood is filled with plenty of dental memories. To ensure healthy teeth for years to come it is vital for children to learn preventive dental care habits from a very early age. This includes brushing of course as well as several necessary steps to help keep teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime.

Floss Daily

While kids are notorious for disliking flossing, it is an essential part of oral hygiene. Flossing is the only way to get in between teeth to remove food particles and plaque. Brushing alone cannot effectively remove bacteria and food. Ninety percent of bacteria reside in between teeth, and only dental floss can access these areas of the mouth. Teach by example and continue to stress the importance of flossing even when you get complaints and protest! It might not be until they become parents themselves but your children will thank you later on!

Do Not Forget the Tongue!

While teeth and gums are a primary focus, it is also important to teach kids to clean their tongues. The tongue has areas that can hide bacteria and promote the development of plaque and bad breath. Make it fun by sticking tongues out in front of the mirror and brushing while making funny faces!

Schedule Twice Yearly Cleanings

Tartar forms when bacteria builds up on the teeth. This can result in inflammation and even bleeding gums. When this happens, it is time to visit the dentist. Remember only dentists and dental hygienists can safely remove tartar from teeth. A dull ache or even sensitivity when brushing may be signs of more significant problems such as receding gums or a dead nerve inside a tooth. Ask your dentist about sealants for the biting surfaces of your child’s teeth. The grooves are susceptible to decay even with good brushing habits.

What about Brushing?

Get your kids in the habit of brushing at an early age. Advise them to brush for two minutes twice daily front, back and on biting surfaces. It is also important that they have the right technique and type of toothbrush to protect their teeth and gums. Standard nylon toothbrushes can be especially harsh and irritating for children’s delicate, sensitive gums. Children (and adults too!) often brush much too aggressively, which can lead to serious problems later on in life!

Each year, an estimated 24 million people suffer from what the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry has labeled as “toothbrush disease.”The term means gingival recession and wear of the root surface caused by over brushing, which contributes to receding gums and hypersensitivity of the teeth.

Do yourself and your family a favor: put up a sign in your bathroom to remind your family: faster and harder brushing does not mean cleaner teeth. Over-brushing can lead to receding gums and painful surgery!

Another option is to get in touch with me about purchasing a specialty toothbrush I created called the PeriClean and PeriKids Ultra Soft Specialty Toothbrush for children up to 12 years old. Its patented, ultra gentle design allows children to brush their teeth easily and comfortably even when losing their primary (baby teeth) and as their permanent teeth grow in. I also designed it with a thick, contoured handle making it easy for children to use.  

Just remember this: proper dental care is a lifelong responsibility that begins in the toddler years and continues throughout adulthood. By teaching these important habits during the formative first years, you can give your child one of the most amazing gifts of life – a healthy smile!

Dr. Jack Gruber, DDS is a periodontist in clinical practice for more than four decades.  After many years of research and testing, Dr. Gruber created the PeriClean, an alternative to standard nylon toothbrushes to combat gum recession caused by toothbrush abrasion. Its design minimizes forceful brushing that causes damage to the teeth and gums while removing plaque with a textured surface.