It is most commonly perceived that eating sweets is the biggest contributor to getting bad teeth. However, what many don’t know is that there are other teeth villains lurking around that we must avoid. Take these tips and apply them to keep those pearly whites as white and healthy as they can be.

1) Sour candy is just as bad as sweet candy – Avoid both when necessary

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Studies have shown that food that is acidic or low-pH such as sour candy, fruit juices, and soft drinks can soften teeth. While they may be tasty, they don’t contribute to our teeth’s healthy growth. If they are overly consumed, it can easily lead to bad enamel erosion. And once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. Both adults and children are negatively affected by citric acid consumption. However, children are the most sensitive to this type of food. This is because a child’s tooth enamel does not fully mature until a decade after the tooth has grown. This makes children’s teeth more susceptible to enamel erosion.

A tip that we give our clients is that if you are going to consume highly acidic foods, it is best if you save it for mealtime. The balance of highly acidic foods with non-acidic foods will help to minimize the bad effects that citric acid will have on your teeth.

2) Teeth enamel is not as tough as we think

Although enamel is the hardest substance on our body, it can still chip pretty easily. Eating hard foods such as ice cubes and popcorn kernel can heighten the chances of teeth chipping. You may not think that your teeth could chip off by eating these things, but the lasting wear and tear will surely take a toll on your teeth.

Additionally, mouth jewelry like tongue or lip piercings can also crack or chip your teeth. They can easily harbor bacteria and can negatively affect your oral hygiene. In a recent study that was published in the American Journal of Dentistry in 2007, it showed that 14% to 41% of people with oral piercings suffered from tooth fractures and tooth wear. The study illustrated that mouth piercings may cause “significant oral deformities” and “may lead to tooth loss.”

Our teeth are not made to restore themselves, so we have to be careful to avoid all of the hidden dental villains.

3) The use of fluoride is not always good

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Fluoride is a mineral that can be naturally found in many foods and water. Fluoride can protect your teeth from harmful bacteria that can cause cavities and plaque. Although it is very helpful in preventing tooth decay, when used too often, its effects can be damaging. This is especially true for children. When parents are not careful about their children’s fluoride use or intake, they can be more prone to developing a condition known as fluorosis. The condition starts out with the formation of abnormal white spots on your teeth, which eventually turn brown over time. Fluorisis stains are “intrinsic” stains because the stains are on the dentin, the inner layer of the teeth. Because these stains are on the inner layer, it is incredibly difficult for dentists to treat.

The problem of fluorisis occurs in children when they ingest too much fluoride.  In most cases, this occurs when children use an excess of toothpaste when brushing. Typically, the end result of this doesn’t turn out too well and the child ends up swallowing the excess amount. To get your children into the habit of not swallowing their toothpaste, we recommend that you give them fluoride-free toothpaste until they understand the proper tooth brushing techniques. This will give them a better understanding of the do’s and don’ts in tooth brushing.

4) Tooth loss can happen at any age

Your age doesn’t matter when it comes to tooth loss. You can be a child losing your tooth for the first time or a middle aged adult getting your wisdom teeth pulled. The most frequent causes of tooth loss come from gum disease and cavities.

It is very common for people to choose to have their teeth pulled out rather than to spend absurd amounts of money on repairing their damaged teeth. Studies show that Americans 65+ have a 22.8%-29.4% chance of wearing dentures.

Make sure to be careful about what you’re eating and how you are treating your teeth, because missing teeth at any age is just no fun.

5) Braces can surprisingly cause cavities

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Proper dental hygiene is necessary if you want your teeth to be healthy, especially while wearing braces. Food that gets stuck around your braces causes damaging bacteria and plaque to form. The results will leave you with bad enamel and horrible cavities. Even if the tooth doesn’t fully formulate into a cavity, it can still cause “demineralization.” This can lead to serious diseases such as osteoporosis or tooth decay. Don’t let having braces make you a lazy brusher.  Avoid another cosmetic visit to the dentist and make brushing and flossing a daily thing.

With good dental hygiene comes a mouth full of great teeth. Don’t let these 5 things get in the way of your pearly whites. Make sure you treat your teeth with the care they require and they will reward you with a lifetime full of smiles.