We all want a beautiful smile and healthy teeth, but sometimes we just don’t do right by them. Sure, brushing and flossing are good, but did you know that every day we do little (and sometimes not so little) things that are sabotaging these precious pearly whites of ours?  Here are the top everyday 10 ways we wreck our teeth – mostly without even thinking about what we’re doing:

1. Gummy candies: So we all know that sugar is bad for your teeth, but how about those sticky gummy candies? Have you noticed how long they stay on your teeth, even after you’ve finished chewing?  The longer sugar adheres to your dental enamel, the more the bacteria in your mouth are happy, happy little buggers!   Sugar produces acid which can rot your teeth. This acid is produced by the natural bacteria’s in the mouth that eat sugar which then turns into acids that will eat away at the tooth enamel which will eventually lead to the tooth decay, cavities or gingivitis.

2. Chomping on ice: Before you stick a piece of ice in your mouth, remember that each time you chomp down you risk cracking your teeth and damaging the surrounding gums. Fracture lines, chips, and cracks are common results from frequent ice chewing, and if any is large enough the victim could require a root canal or even a tooth extraction!  Even if frequent ice chewing does not result in one of these more serious effects, it will still wear down the enamel on your teeth much faster than is normal, which leads to cavities.

3. Drinking acidic beverages:  We’ve just established that sugar turns into acid which wears down enamel so diet drinks have to be the way to go because they’re sugar-free, right?  Wrong!  The phosphoric acid that’s in most diet sodas do the same thing as the acid created from sugars.  What’s also surprising is what’s considered an acidic beverage.  In addition to sodas they include sports and energy drinks, iced teas, and even wine.  To boot, the darker the color of the drink – think colas or red wine – the faster your teeth will yellow.

4. Drinking bottled water:  Next time you pick up a bottle instead of going to the tap to get your suggested eight glasses of water a day, you could be robbing yourself of some valuable fluoride.  About 60 percent of Americans have fluoride in their water supply, however, most bottled waters contain less fluoride than recommended for good oral health (it will be listed as an ingredient on the label if it is an additive).  Home filtration systems also filter much of the fluoride out.

5. Using your teeth as tools:  We’ve all done it … there’s that bag we can’t get open, or even worse, that bottle cap that just won’t budge.  You know you shouldn’t have used your teeth to open them but you did it anyway and now you’ve got a great big chip or fracture on your tooth.

6. Using a hard toothbrush:  You think, hard tooth enamel needs a hard toothbrush to clean it, right? Now way Jose.  If you use a brush with hard bristles, you run the risk instead of wearing away the enamel and causing gum erosion which will lead to tooth sensitivity.  Plaque is soft.  Use a soft toothbrush instead in a circular motion for two minutes.

7. Grinding your teeth:  Okay, so for this one you can’t blame yourself since you’re most likely only doing it in your sleep.  Tooth-to-tooth clenching can wear down teeth and make your smile look 10 to 20 years older.  Grinding also paves the way for cavities by causing pressure and fractures.  It wears away the top layer of enamel and lowers the levels of enamel beyond the dentin which can lead to decay.  Best way to prevent this?  Wear a night guard.

8. Smoking cigarettes: Smoking is bad for EVERYTHING, including your teeth and gums.  Not only does it cause your teeth to yellow, but smoking can make your gums more prone to developing gum disease with bone loss.  A surefire way to lose your teeth at an early age is to puff away.

9. Eating starchy foods: The bacteria in plaque will also break down starchy foods into acid. This acid can attack the teeth for the next 20 minutes — even longer if the food is stuck between the teeth or you snack often. You might want to floss after eating potato chips or other starchy foods that tend to get stuck in the teeth.

10. Constant snacking: Eating little amounts frequently throughout the day produces less saliva than a meal, leaving food bits in your teeth for hours longer.  Every time you eat, the byproduct of bacteria munching on the food you eat will cause an acid attack.  Avoid snacking too frequently, and stick to snacks that are low in sugar and starch — for example, carrot sticks.

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