Ideally, your teeth and gums will stay healthy for a lifetime, but they are susceptible to disease, decay, and breakage.

You know that you have to treat the rest of your body well in order to keep it in tip-top shape, so why wouldn’t the same hold true for your mouth?

If you are guilty of any of the following common habits, it’s a good idea to nip them in the bud. Your reward will be a healthy and great-looking smile.

Of course, it’s also important to visit the dentist every six months. If you live in or around Laredo, TX, book your next checkup at Davenport Dental Group. Reach our Junction Drive office at 956-242-6745 or our Winfield location at 956-517-2695.

Careless Brushing and Flossing

When you brush and floss your teeth, do you rush through it or just go through the motions? When you’ve been doing something every day for practically your entire life, it’s easy to get into a rut and not be as thorough as you should. Maybe you’ve even gotten into the habit of skipping the deed. Sometimes you’re tired, you’re in a hurry . . . it won’t hurt to miss it now and again, right?

Wrong. In order to get rid of the nasty acids, bacteria, and plaque that destroy your enamel, it’s important to brush every morning and night and floss at least once a day. And you need to make sure your technique’s up to snuff, too.

Each brushing session should last a full two minutes. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums and reach all of the tooth surface area, including the backs. Use gentle short or circular strokes.

Use fluoride toothpaste and if your toothbrush is frayed or hasn’t been replaced in a few months, throw it out and get a new one!

When you floss, use a length of about 18 inches, keeping most wrapped around your middle fingers (with a 2” section in use at any given time). Meticulously go up and down between all the teeth, using a fresh part of the floss for each section. Keep the floss taut against the enamel, so it helps remove bacteria and plaque.

Scrubbing Your Teeth

Brushing well does not mean brushing harder. Perhaps you think adding more elbow grease to your twice-daily routine will get your teeth cleaner. It may very well remove bacteria, plaque, and tartar on your teeth. But it may end up removing the tooth enamel as well. This can lead to sensitivity, pain, cavities, and infection, as the enamel is important to protect the teeth from bacteria and the acids they produce. Overly enthusiastic brushing may also wear down or injure your gums. Eventually, this may result in gum recession, periodontal disease, and even tooth loss!

Habitual Snacking

If you are the type of person who likes to graze or snack throughout the day, you may want to put an end to this habit. When you never really stop eating, a film of sticky plaque (made up of harmful bacteria) tends to build up on your teeth. The bacteria in the plaque release acids that wear away the enamel and lead to tooth decay.

By snacking constantly, you are exposing your teeth to frequent damaging acid attacks. It doesn’t help that favorite snack foods (chips, pretzels, etc) tend to be loaded with carbs — bacteria’s favorite food.

If you must nibble on something, don’t keep a bowl of chips by your desk all afternoon. Eat your snack at one time, and choose a tooth-healthy option like an apple, or a handful of carrot sticks with hummus or veggie dip.

Eating Stuff That’s Not Food

Do you gnaw on your fingernails when nervous? Do you ever find yourself nibbling the top of your pen or pencil as you try to compose a thought? Or maybe you’re an inveterate ice-chewer. Eating objects that are not food is a common but potentially destructive habit. You risk chipping, cracking, or breaking off a tooth and finding yourself in a dental emergency situation. You may also wear down your teeth over time. Another danger of chewing on objects is that you can transfer harmful bacteria from the object to your mouth — or vice-versa. Yuck!

Using Your Mouth as a Tool

We’ve all done it. Put a particularly stubborn bag of chips between our teeth and yanked it open. Or, rather than looking for a pair of scissors, pulled the tags off a new shirt with our mouth. These acts may seem harmless enough, but they may end up chipping or breaking a tooth. Not worth it!

One habit you should practice is visiting Davenport Dental Group every six months. To request an appointment, fill out our online form or contact one of our two Laredo, TX offices directly. Call Junction Drive at 956-242-6745 or Winfield at 956-517-2695.