You only have one set of teeth (well, technically two counting your baby teeth), and once you lose them they’re gone forever. Until we learn to regenerate them through a mechanism similar to how a lizard grows a new tail, we must take excellent care of our teeth lest we require dentures to chew our food.
Yet as it turns out, several things that you may already be doing on a daily basis can be harming your pearly whites. Even brushing your teeth too often has been linked to enamel decay. Discussed below are some surprising things that may be harming your teeth in the long run.
No, the backstroke doesn’t lead to tooth loss (although it can if you’re not paying attention and hit the wall headfirst). Rather, swimming in highly chlorinated pools can erode and stain your enamel. High chlorine levels make the pool an acidic environment which can gradually wear down the natural defenses of your teeth.
Luckily there is a way to mitigate the damage. Brushing your teeth and rinsing with a fluoride product immediately after swimming can help significantly. Remember that this only applies to chlorinated pools and not the ocean or naturally occurring bodies of water!
Eating large meals causes your mouth to generate a lot of saliva. This helps to remove the lingering food particles that can cause decay. Eating small snacks, however, doesn’t produce as much saliva. It doesn’t help that most snacks are high in carbohydrates and simple sugars, which already lead to tooth decay on their own. If you are going to snack, you should make it more than just a cracker or two.
Drinking Diet Soda
One of the assumed benefits of diet soda is that it doesn’t contain the high sugar levels of regular soda, thus making it better for your teeth as well as your waistline. Unfortunately this is a very faulty assumption to make.
Diet soda still contains high levels of citric acid and phosphoric acid, which wears down your teeth (much in the same way as the PH levels in a chlorinated pool do). If you are drinking diet soda on a regular basis, you are putting your teeth under constant acidic siege. If you cannot quit the diet soda, drink some water afterwards. It will help neutralize the acid in your mouth.
While oral contraceptives work pretty well at preventing unwanted pregnancies, they do so by essentially tricking your body into thinking that you are pregnant. During pregnancy, women experience hormonal changes that often bring on periodontal disease. If you are taking oral contraceptives, you should be visiting your dentist on a semi-regular basis (about every three months).
Brushing Your Teeth
Most people think that good tooth care means brushing often and aggressively. Unfortunately, doing so can actually wear down your teeth’s enamel. Toothbrushes that are too hard or brushing too aggressively can cause your gums to recede. Instead, brush with medium intensity in a circular fashion for approximately five minutes. Avoid brushing your teeth more than two to three times a day, as this can backfire and cause tooth damage.