8 things that can damage your teeth

  • Do you brush your teeth right after eating or drinking something acidic? Give your teeth some time. If you brush immediately after eating or drinking, you may cause tooth wear because the enamel is softened by the acid. After an hour or so, brush gently with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Do you brush your teeth before eating or drinking something acidic? This probably doesn't happen too often, but if you do, you should stop. Brushing teeth immediately before drinking or eating something acidic brushes away the saliva that protects your enamel from acid.
  • Do you brush your teeth too vigorously? It would seem like a good idea to brush hard, to scrub away all the remnants of food you've eaten. But brushing too vigorously can wear down and weaken a tooth's enamel, as well as damage the gums. Instead, brush teeth gently, using circular strokes and a soft-bristled brush.
  • Do you grit and grind your teeth? Everyone grits their teeth now and then – when you're lifting something heavy maybe, or when you're feeling stressed – and some people grind their teeth while they sleep, a condition called sleep bruxism. Any type of tooth-to-tooth clenching can wear down the teeth.
  • Do you take certain types of medication regularly? Many types of medications can cause dry mouth. When your mouth lacks moisture, your teeth become more vulnerable to eroding enamel and all of the cavities and gum problems that can develop. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of the medications you take can cause dry mouth. You may be able to take action to prevent dry mouth from damaging your teeth.
  • Do you experience frequent bouts of heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)? Your digestive system churns with acids. When the acids find their way back up into you mouth via burping or reflux, your tooth enamel may be damaged.
  • Do you vomit frequently? As with heartburn or GERD, frequent vomiting exposes your teeth to many digestive acids. People with eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia may induce vomiting, but it can also be a symptom or complication of different illnesses, conditions (e.g., "morning sickness" during pregnancy), treatments, and medications
  • Do you swim in chlorinated pools often? The chemicals and chlorine in swimming pools have been found to be corrosive to tooth enamel over time. But you would have to gulp up a lot of chlorinated pool water for it to have much effect. Still, if you spend time in the pool, avoid taking the water into your mouth.

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