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    What Wears Down Your Teeth

    Chipped, Fractured, or Broken Teeth continued...

    Take some steps to safeguard your smile.

    Don’t bite down on hard foods, like ice and hard candies. Also, instead of trying to open that package or bottle with your mouth, grab an opener or pair of scissors.

    A cavity or filling can weaken your tooth and make it more likely to chip or break, too. So it’s important to see your dentist for a check-up twice a year.

    And if you play a contact sport, ask your dentist to fit you for a mouth guard. Athletes who don’t wear them are nearly twice as likely to have a mouth or tooth injury.

    Acid and Tooth Enamel Erosion

    You may remember from high-school chemistry class that acids can eat away at surfaces. This holds true for tooth enamel. 

    Here are some ways you’re exposing your mouth to acid:

    • Acidic foods and drinks. Citrus fruits can wear down enamel. Sodas, lemonade, and sports and energy drinks are the most harmful drinks.
    • Sugar. Bacteria on your teeth feed on sugar. They make harmful acids and cause cavities.
    • Acid reflux. It brings stomach acids back into your esophagus and mouth.
    • Frequent vomiting. Conditions that cause this, like alcoholism and bulimia, expose your teeth to stomach acid too often.

    Cut down on sugary and acidic drinks and snacks during the day. When you have them regularly, “this exposes your teeth to acid for a longer period of time, which wears down the enamel,” says Sara Hahn, DMD, an assistant professor at the University of California-San Francisco’s School of Dentistry.  

    Also, “each time have something acidic or sugary, rinse your mouth with some water,” Hahn says. You can also chew a piece of sugarless gum, which boosts your saliva flow. Your saliva contains minerals like calcium and phosphate that strengthen tooth enamel.

    If you have acid reflux (or GERD), alcoholism, or bulimia, see your doctor for treatment or medication.

    And don’t forget to brush your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste. A fluoride mouth rinse will also help.

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    Reviewed on November 09, 2015

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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