Do You Have These 5 Bad Dental Habits?
Dental Care Problem 3: Grinding Your Teeth
Whether you grind your teeth during the day, at night, or both day and night, it wears them down. Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.
Your dentist may suggest wearing a mouth guard for teeth grinding at night. Custom models made by your dentist cost more than over-the-counter ones, but they generally fit better and work better, too. Sometimes, it helps simply to be aware that you are grinding your teeth. If it is caused by stress, consider an exercise program or counseling.
You may also want to try cutting back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine; reduce or avoid alcohol consumption; don't chew on pencils or anything else that isn't food; if you notice that you clench or grind your teeth during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth to train your jaw muscles to relax; and, relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek, in front of the earlobe.
Dental Care Problem 4: Using a Hard-Bristled Toothbrush
Some people think the firmer the toothbrush, the better. This isn’t so, especially for older adults. With age, the gums push back and the roots of the teeth become exposed, often increasing sensitivity. The root is covered with cementum, which is worn away more easily than enamel. A brush with too-firm bristles may irritate the gums and lead to sensitive teeth.
Ask your dentist or hygienist what toothbrush might be best to maintain your dental health.
Dental Care Problem 5: Not Brushing, Flossing, or Rinsing Properly
Some people brush, floss, and rinse their teeth regularly, but not often enough. You should aim to brush twice a day, and be sure to replace your manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three or four months.
Flossing teeth should be done daily, too. If you aren't sure if you floss properly -- and dentists say many people aren’t -- ask your dentist or your hygienist for a demonstration on your next visit.
Antiseptic rinses help get rid of bacteria that cause gum disease and bad breath. Fluoride rinses help prevent tooth decay. Dentists recommend rinsing once or twice a day.
You may find a powered toothbrush better, especially if you have hand, arm, or shoulder problems that make manual brushing difficult. If you have children, be sure to buy them child-sized brushes so they fit their hands and mouth, and are easier to use.