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9 Ways to Avoid Costly Dental Problems

Updated on July 12, 2019
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Since the time Mary had braces, she has been an advocate for dental health. Sharing advice and tips from dental professionals in her family

Dental problems
Dental problems | Source

Common dental problems

Dental implants, orthodontic work, and cosmetic whitening have seen a surge in popularity over the past 10 years. Many of these cases could have been prevented saving the patient many hours of potentially painful and costly procedures.

If you are like most people, you may have developed some habits that are less than ideal for your teeth. Everyone wants a beautiful smile, and clean teeth along with healthy gums, are part of that.

Your teeth were meant to last a lifetime and with a little forethought, you can keep your teeth in your mouth for the rest of your life. This is not only easier on you, it is easier on your pocket.

Let's take a look at some of the ways you can reduce the expenditure of dental work by taking precautions with some of the things you eat and drink, and with habits you may have acquired.

Popcorn Kernels
Popcorn Kernels | Source

Popcorn is Bad For Teeth

Is there anyone who doesn't love popcorn? A visit to the cinema just wouldn't be complete without it. So what is the problem with popcorn you might ask. There are a couple issues with it. The first is the outer husk on the kernel, this slides off and can affix against your tooth and slide down below the gum line. This can be difficult to remove even with dental floss. I have had this happen to me years ago and had to make an appointment to see the dentist to have it removed.

The second problem that may occur is what is left over, the 'old maids' as they are often called are the unpopped kernels. When you finish the fluffy popped ones, the hard kernels are sitting in all that salt at the bottom of the bowl. You know you really shouldn't try to crack them open but you do anyway. If you have any loose dental work, this is when you find out just how fragile it is.

This doesn't mean you have to give up popcorn though, just choose a premium variety. The better quality will result in fewer unpopped kernels and the skin will not flake away and cause problems.

Diet Coke
Diet Coke | Source

Soft drinks and teeth

I can't think of one tooth friendly soft drink. Although you may opt for a sugar-free variety, you are still inflicting your teeth to acid, that will erode your teeth. Try placing a dirty penny in a glass of Coke overnight and see what happens. You will have a shiny penny in the morning. It sounds like a great idea, just drink Coke and it will make your teeth shiny. Nope, not so, it is the acid at work that is removing a grungy layer off the penny. This is what it will do to the enamel on your teeth!

If you love soft drinks and aren't prepared to give them up, consider using a straw. This takes a good portion of this strong damaging acid away from the teeth.

Fruit juice and teeth problems

How can something be good and bad for us? Well this is the case with fruit juices. They contain needed vitamins and minerals and yet the acid is bad for our teeth. So how can we drink this without feeling guilty?

The answer is, drink it with a meal, this way the amount of acid is only in your mouth for a shorter time. If you drink juice or soft drinks throughout the day, your mouth is constantly being bombarded by acid all day long. As with soft drinks, use a straw when possible, to protect the enamel on your teeth.

Hard candy
Hard candy | Source

Sugarfree Candy and Toffee

Are you a sucker or a chewer?

Candy that is sucked keeps the sugary substance in the mouth longer . Our bodies are producing acid to help digest this and these two combined, the sugar and the acid, are waging war on the teeth.

The other option is chewing the candy. This too has its drawbacks as this can lead to dental work coming out and the chipping of teeth.

Opt for sugar free candy where possible. If the sugar free candy is a toffee or hard candy then sucking it will ensure dental work stays put. Be aware sugar free candy causes loose stools in many people.

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Stains on teeth

There are many products on the market that claim to whiten teeth. Of course some work better than others. The best way is to visit your dentist or dental practitioner and see about options they suggest.

Prevention, of course, is the best option. If something is highly colored, it has the potential to stain. That coupled with the fact that when it is consumed, you mouth begins to produce saliva which contains acid which puts the teeth in a vulnerable state assisting with the staining. The following have the potential to stain your teeth:

  • Tea and coffee
  • Red wine
  • Smoking
  • Prescription medicines
  • Sauces such as Ketchup, curry sauce, and even soy sauce.
  • Candies that are brightly colored
  • Berries. Raspberries, cranberries, blue berries etc.

You may find some affect you more than others. Also the canine teeth, those that are more pointed and at the corner of your mouth, tend to discolor faster.

Top tips for healthy teeth and gums

Be aware of the hidden dangers in food.

  • Use a straw to drink acidic drinks such as fruit juices and soft drinks
  • Don't use your teeth as tools
  • Don't bite your nails
  • Rinse your mouth quickly if you vomit
  • Protect your teeth with a mouth guard during sports
  • Select tooth-friendly candy and drinks
  • Chew sugar free gum after eating or rinse with water.
  • Brush at least twice a day but not right after eating.
  • Visit your dentist twice a year.

Teeth as tools

Do you use your teeth as tools? Pulling the caps off of pens, biting thread instead of using scissors? If your mother was like mine, you will still hear her voice in your head saying, “Don't use your teeth for that!”

If you have a package that needs opening do you look for a knife or scissors or do you rip it open with your teeth? Don't do it! Your mother was correct. Biting your nails is the same, not only is this unhygienic, it is bad for your teeth as well. There are many more efficient tools to use than your pearly whites.

Vomiting erodes teeth

People vomit for various reason, sometimes they are unwell, or have consumed too much alcohol.

There are also people who have eating disorders. When people force themselves to vomit, they are risking not just their health, they are damaging their teeth as well. The strong stomach acid will begin to erode the enamel on the teeth. People with eating disorders, often have bite marks on the back of their hands and bad teeth from making themselves vomit.

After vomiting, rinse the mouth well to get rid of the acid. Don't brush your teeth for at least 20 minutes as acid will remain there. If someone is ill, assist them to rinse their mouth out.

If you or someone you know, suffers from an eating disorder, consult a doctor.

Grinding the teeth
Grinding the teeth | Source

Grinding teeth

Do you grind your teeth at night? You may not think of this as a problem but over the years it will be, as you will wear down the teeth. Speak to your dentist about having a guard designed to save your teeth.

Sports mouth guards

You may never think it will happen to you, but if you take part in sports such as football, hockey, or boxing you need a mouth guard every time! All it takes is a few seconds to prevent what could be a lifetime of dental visits or wearing dentures or false teeth. Many types are specific to the sport. If you are unsure which type you need, ask your coach, dentist or specialist sports store.


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