Health & Fitness

5 lesser known causes that damages your teeth and how to avoid them

The common causes of tooth damage are pretty well known, but what about the things no one has ever really mentioned to you before? This article will cover 5 of these lesser known causes, and hopefully help you to avoid them and break away from some of the habits that are causing damage to your teeth.

To start your journey on the road to healthier teeth, let’s talk about your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth that protects the dentin, pulp, cementum, and nerves found inside your teeth. If you’ve ever had a cavity, you may be surprised to learn that your tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your entire body. Now I’m pretty sure that you’ve seen a toothpaste commercial. These commercials usually mention things like having a “dazzling white smile” or “whitening your teeth.” Here’s an interesting fact; the enamel on your teeth isn’t white at all, it’s actually clear. The yellow that you see showing through your enamel is the dentin that I mentioned earlier. Certain drinks like coffee and tea can stain your tooth enamel, giving it a dingy yellow or grey appearance, but that isn’t quite the same as the staining you’ll see from eating and drinking over time.

Seeing a little yellow in your teeth is quite normal because your enamel becomes thinner over time as part of your natural aging process. There are also a number of other causes behind teeth yellowing. It is possible to whiten your teeth to a certain degree, but that’s where the damage comes in. Remember those toothpaste commercials I mentioned? Well, too much teeth-whitening can actually cause damage to your teeth. Do-it-yourself whitening teeth strips are a good way to whiten teeth, but using them too much or too often will strip away your tooth enamel. Using peroxide whitening agents too much or too often can also lead to cellular damage to your teeth.

You may wonder why I’m focusing on tooth enamel so much. That’s because enamel is the substance that protects your teeth from damage. Think of it as a suit of armor for your teeth. If that suit of armor get’s destroyed, there’s nothing left to protect the vulnerable parts inside your teeth. This leads to the second lesser known cause we’ll discuss here, bacteria. Bacteria can lead to tooth decay because it feeds off of sweets and other sugary foods after you eat them, but did you know that eating too many starches can help bacteria thrive inside your mouth as well? Foods that are high in starch such as potatoes and rice aren’t often considered to be culprits of tooth decay, but they are. You may also be surprised to learn that bread contains starch, even though we typically place it in the grain category. Starch is broken down by the saliva inside your mouth and turned into sugar. When the starches in these foods are broken down, they turn into a kind of sticky paste that clings to your teeth making them harder to get rid of. That’s why it’s best to limit sugar as well as starch in your diet.

Another enamel killer is eating hot food with a cold drink simultaneously. You may be asking yourself how eating something hot and chasing it down with a cold drink could possibly be damaging your tooth enamel. The temperature of the hot food you’re eating actually expands your tooth enamel, allowing all of that bacteria I mentioned earlier to have easy access to any small holes or chips you may not have noticed in your tooth enamel. The cold drink then causes your enamel to contract, effectively closing all the bacteria inside those unnoticed areas of damage in your teeth. It’s best to allow your food to cool first before you eat, and limit those chilly temperatures for any beverage you pair with your meal. If you notice a shooting pain or increased tooth sensitivity when you eat extremely hot or cold food or drink, it’s time to see your dentist. If you’re in the area, visit to make an appointment with a local dentist to help you figure out what’s going on and help solve any teeth problems you may be having.

Now that we’ve talked about cold drinks playing a role in tooth damage, let’s talk about ice. Do you know anyone that just loves crunching away on ice? If so, it’s a good idea to tell them to stop. While munching away on ice may seem harmless, it could actually be destroying your tooth enamel one chomp at a time. While tooth enamel is strong, it’s also rather delicate, especially when it comes to any previous tooth restoration work you may have had. Chewing on ice can crack your teeth or chip away your tooth enamel, especially if your enamel is already damaged. If you just can’t stop chewing on ice, try crushed ice instead. The smaller pieces are less likely to cause damage to your teeth.

Finally, let’s talk about your tongue. You may be wondering what your tongue has to do with damage to your teeth. Well, it’s not your tongue so much as the way you hold it in your mouth. Have you ever noticed yourself clenching your teeth? If so, think about how your tongue is usually positioned in your mouth when you aren’t chewing or speaking. A natural tongue position allows your tongue to rest naturally against the roof of your mouth. This position relaxes your jaw and prevents you from clenching your teeth, which can lead to tooth damage. It may sound strange, but try it and see for yourself.

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