7 Healthy Habits That Can Wreak Havoc on Your Teeth

When you do something good for your health, it makes you feel good.

You’re proud that you’ve educated yourself and made a choice that will benefit you for many years to come… and possibly even add more of those years to your life.

But sometimes you find out that a healthy habit you’ve taken on has unintended negative consequences. Something you’re doing may be helping one part of your health and hurting another.

This see-saw effect is an issue that tends to come up in your dentist’s office. Unfortunately, there are several healthy habits that have caught on which, while helping your weight or your heart health, may wreak havoc on your teeth if you’re not careful.

1) The Smoothie and Juicing Craze

In recent years, health fanatics everywhere have fallen in love with healthy smoothies and juices, particularly those that also incorporate greens like spinach and kale.

juiceA glass of juice; image source: Creative Commons

Drinking your fruits and veggies is a great way for some people to increase the amount of healthy foods they eat, but what shouldn’t be forgotten is that even all-natural fruits and vegetables contain sugar.

You don’t have to swear off these nutritious drinks, but you should avoid sipping on juice or a smoothie steadily throughout the day because that means your teeth are being bathed in sugar all day long.

Furthermore, you shouldn’t replace eating fruits and vegetables with drinking them – when you blend or juice your produce, you lose much of the nutritional benefit, but you retain all the sugar and put it into a form that makes it easier for your body to absorb. Like almost everything else, juices and smoothies should be consumed in moderation.

2) The Immediate Brusher

You may think you’re getting an A+ in dental hygiene if you immediately rush to the bathroom to brush after every single meal. But if your meal contained food or drink that was acidic, you’re damaging your teeth if you brush immediately afterwards.

Acid weakens your teeth, and when you brush weakened teeth, you may be brushing away precious and irreplaceable dentin and enamel. Instead, wait 30 to 60 minutes after consuming acidic food or drink before brushing.

3) The Hard Brusher

When you’re standing in the tooth bush aisle, many assume that hard bristles do a better job at cleaning your teeth, but that’s wrong. In fact, a hard-bristled brush may very well be doing damage to your teeth – toothpaste is already meant to be an abrasive, so you don’t need hard bristles too. A soft bristled brush will keep your teeth clean and healthy in a safe and gentle way.

4) Diet Drinks

For a long time, drinking Diet Coke instead of Coke was thought to be a healthy choice, but by now it’s clear that the word “diet” doesn’t make something healthy.

Though diet beverages may not be loaded with sugar, they are often loaded with acid, which is just as damaging to teeth as sugar. If you really want to care for your teeth and overall health, you should avoid all sodas and sweet drinks.

5) Sports Drinks

If you work out regularly, you’re probably concerned with staying hydrated while you sweat, so you may not think twice when you reach for a Gatorade or Vitamin Water. The problem is that while these drinks quench your thirst, the sugars and acids they contain erode your teeth dentin and enamel. If you do drink them, limit consumption to a small amount after a workout instead of sipping it all day. And try drinking plain water instead as it hydrates without the sugars and acids.

6) Home Whitening Products

Be careful about always using whitening toothpaste or doing very frequent home whitening treatments. Once in a while, that shouldn’t be an issue but too using those products too often can severely weaken teeth. If you’d like to whiten, you’re better off doing occasional professional treatments instead of frequent home treatments.

7) Bottled Water

There is absolutely nothing wrong with drinking bottled water, but you may be putting your dental health at risk if that’s all you ever drink. Many bottled waters do not contain fluoride, so you should still include tap water in your H2O regimen to help you prevent cavities.

And if you’re worried about purity, you can still use a carbon filter system which does not filter out fluoride, like Brita and Pur. But loyal bottled water drinkers can do some research to find a brand that includes a healthy amount of fluoride.

It’s a shame that some healthy choices you make have negative side effects, but it’s just another reason to remember that moderation is the key to most healthy habits out there. And when you think about your health, it’s critical to remember to include your teeth as well.

authorAbout the Author:
Dr. Kimberly Dyoco is a Chicago cosmetic dentist who offers a wide range of general and cosmetic treatments at her practice, One Mag Smile. When she’s not finding ways to provide even better care for her patients, she enjoys sharing her expertise as a guest blogger on a variety of lifestyle and health websites. To find out more, click here.

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