A regular checkup, along with routine brushing and flossing is the way to protect your teeth, but there are some facts about your chompers that you might not have known.
1. Enamel is the hardest substance a body can produce, but it can be easily broken.
That is right! Your teeth are coated and protected by the hardest substance you can produce, but they can be easily cracked or chipped by seemingly common items. Some of the biggest enamel-breaking offenders are ice cubes and popcorn kernels. And if you are rocking a lip or tongue piercing, beware as those are big offenders as well. (Studies show that up to 41% of people with oral piercings already have tooth fractures and enamel wear. Keep that in mind if you have been considering a piercing.)
Take extra caution if you already suffer from cavities or have had previous fillings, as enamel does not regrow on a tooth. Once the protective coating is infiltrated, those little hazards can be even more damaging. A popcorn kernel is equivalent to chewing on a rock, so a weakened tooth does not stand a chance.
2. Missing teeth can be genetic.
While tooth loss is sometimes viewed as a result of poor oral hygiene, it is not the cause of all missing teeth. Many people are born without wisdom teeth (while others get to have theirs removed), and a surprising amount of people are born without lateral incisors, which are located next to your two front teeth.
However, if you have lost a tooth or two to gum disease or cavities, do not worry too much. Around 30% of Americans over 65 wear dentures.
3. Sour foods can be as bad as sweet foods.
Sweet is traditionally linked with cavities, which is evident in our cultural references to things being sweet enough to cause them. But there is one thing even more damaging than sugar: sour foods. Some candy is so sour, its acidity levels reach a level similar to battery acid, and it can almost literally ‘melt’ your teeth.
Soda and candy are the biggest culprits of high-acid foods. Warheads and other sour gummy candy can stick to your teeth and cause a double-whammy of damage, first from the citric acid sourness, and then the sugary residue left behind.
If you are going to consume these sour foods, make sure you rinse your mouth afterward. You can even break out some chewing gum containing xylitol (such as Trident). This will help keep the bacteria in check and the extra saliva will help clean the teeth.
4. The tongue is your natural toothbrush.
You can clean your teeth on the go by simply running your tongue along with them. This helps remove food particles and debris from the crevices and allows you to spread saliva, which aids as a barrier against bacteria. Chewing some sugar-free gum (containing xylitol, if possible) can help get your saliva pumping. This can stave away damage until you find your toothbrush and toothpaste. The tongue also acts as a guide to check for any dental abnormalities. If you feel something out of the ordinary, it is a good time to check in with your dentist.
5. Too much fluoride, while beneficial, can be harmful.
Fluoride is a natural mineral and can be found in toothpaste and drinking water. It helps strengthen and protect teeth from cavities and decay. However, if young children are to ingest too much fluoride through natural brushing routines, it can lead to fluorosis, a condition where the teeth become extra porous and take on white stains. These stains can turn a darker shade of brown and cannot be buffed out or whitened, like other natural stains. The only way to remove them is through cosmetic work, such as veneers. A little goes a long way in this case. To prevent fluorosis, make sure to monitor your child’s brushing habits and prevent them from swallowing their toothpaste. It should be spit out after brushing.
If you have any questions about these surprising facts or about your teeth in general, never hesitate to ask your friendly Valencia Dentist. They are full of dental facts and can probably surprise you with more surprising tooth tips.