Six Daily Habits That Can Affect Your Oral Health

You've probably heard that eating foods high in sugar can affect your oral health, but did you know that eating too many salty snacks could affect your teeth and gums? Here's six daily habits to reconsider to maintain a bright, healthy smile.

1. Eating Salty Foods

Eating salty foods can cause mouth dryness, and a lack of saliva can lead to poor oral health. Saliva is a natural tooth cleanser — washing away bits of food and regulating mouth bacteria.

People often crave water after eating salty foods. Why? Because the body can’t produce enough saliva for proper food digestion and mouth cleaning. Note how often you eat salty foods to ensure your mouth stays moist and salivated.

2. Are You Brushing Your Teeth Long Enough?

Most dental professionals recommend brushing twice a day, for a period of two to three minutes, but most people get in a hurry.

A recent Swiss study concluded that most people brush their teeth slightly over one minute. And there's often a difference between the length of time someone thinks they're brushing and the actual time they do. To ensure a good mouth clean, try setting a timer to two minutes.

3. Chewing Ice

Munching on ice may be a fun, low-calorie snack, but it can be harmful to your teeth. Why? Because you may break a tooth or loosen a filling. One wrong bite of hard ice can chip a tooth. Routinely chewing ice can wear down tooth enamel, which increases the likelihood of cavities. And habitually chewing ice on the same side of your mouth can affect your jaw.

Break the habit by chewing gum, drinking non-iced beverages, or using a straw in iced drinks.

4. Using Your Teeth to Open, Tear or Chew Objects

Although it's tempting, don't use your teeth to tear open food packets. Teeth shouldn't be used as scissors, or to hold objects. You may crack a tooth or injure your jaw. Keep a small pair of scissors handy to open condiment packaging.

Some people chew on a pencil or an eyeglass tip while studying. This can put undue pressure on teeth, which may cause them to crack or shift. Also, non-food items may have germs, which can transfer to the mouth. Try chewing gum to keep your mouth occupied.

5. Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard

Applying too much pressure to the teeth and gums can irritate gums and erode tooth enamel. It can also cause receding gums and sensitive teeth. Using a toothbrush with too-stiff bristles or pressing too hard can affect your oral health.

It's best to use a soft-bristled toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance and to brush for approximately two minutes, twice a day. If you notice that your toothbrush is no longer doing its job, replace it. It's best to replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months or when it shows signs of wear.

6. Sleeping with Your Dentures

If you have dentures, you may be wondering why not leave your dentures in while you sleep? Most dental professionals recommend removing dentures for a minimum of four to eight hours a day. Sleeping with dentures interferes with good oral hygiene and can put your health at risk. Reasons why you shouldn't sleep with your dentures include the following.

It May Cause Denture Stomatitis

Denture stomatitis is an inflammation that affects the tissues under the dentures. Yeast growth can cause mouth tissues can become red, swollen and infected. Thoroughly clean your dentures daily to prevent denture stomatitis.

It Breeds Bacteria

Denture surfaces are naturally porous with tiny crevices where bacteria can hide. Dentures that aren't removed and cleaned daily can develop bacteria, fungi, and harmful microbes. Clean your dentures daily with a bacteria-killing denture cleaner to remove bacteria buildup.

It Can Increase the Risk of Pneumonia

A 2015 study revealed that wearing dentures while sleeping can nearly double the risk of pneumonia in older adults. Pneumonia-causing bacteria on denture surfaces can move from the mouth to the lungs as a person breathes. Prolonged denture wearing and poor denture cleaning habits can increase the risk of pneumonia.

Keep a bright, healthy smile with these oral health tips from Advantage Dental.

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Gary Allen, DMD, Advantage Dental Group, P.C. | James Thommes, DDS, Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Massachusetts, P.C.; Advantage Dental Oral Health And Vision Center Of Alabama, P.C.; Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Oklahoma, P.C.; Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Texas, P.C. | Cory White, DMD, Advantage Dental Oral Health and Vision Center Of Alabama, P.C. | John Clasen, OD, Advantage Dental Oral Health and Vision Center Of Alabama, P.C. | Neil Williams, DMD, Advantage Dental Oral Health Center Of Florida, PA