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  • 10 Activities That Harm Your Teeth

    Sometimes, dental problems stem from traumatic injuries or poor oral hygiene. Other times, you might think you’re doing everything right, but little, everyday habits may weaken or damage your smile. Make a note of these activities that harm your teeth so you can take steps to avoid them.

    1. Eating sticky food: Do you love dried fruit, taffy, and gummy candies? Unfortunately, the sugar in these treats isn’t the only problem with them. If you have crowns, fillings, or other restorative dental work, these sticky foods should be strictly off-limits.
    2. Chewing on ice or hard candy: Chomping down on hard objects is just as bad as sinking your teeth into sticky foods. If you must eat hard candy or suck on ice, let them dissolve rather than biting into them.
    3. Drinking acidic beverages: Acid is a tooth’s worst enemy. Coffee, soda, sports drinks, and wine can demineralize and etch enamel, the hard outer coating of your teeth. When this happens, the risk of cavities and staining increases.
    4. Grinding your teeth at night: Untreated bruxism, or nighttime tooth-grinding and clenching, can lead to cracked, loose, or misaligned teeth. Wearing a mouth guard while you sleep is the best treatment option.
    5. Smoking: Any product containing tobacco is bad for your teeth and gums, causing everything from stained teeth to bad breath. If you smoke, quit now to avoid an array of oral health problems.
    6. Biting your nails: Fingernails may be softer than tooth enamel, but biting your nails can lead to chipped teeth and sore jaw muscles. Try wearing bitter-tasting nail polish to help you break this habit.
    7. Sucking your thumb: If toddlers suck their thumbs after their teeth start coming in, it could affect their bite. So discourage thumb sucking as soon as you notice your child’s first tooth to avoid oral health problems in the future.
    8. Brushing too vigorously: The harder your brush, the cleaner your teeth will get, right? Actually, brushing too hard can wear down enamel and irritate your gums. The key is to find the middle ground between brushing too hard and not brushing hard enough.
    9. Snacking incessantly: Your saliva works hard to clean out your mouth after each meal. If you snack all the time, you give bacteria a constant food supply, increasing your risk of cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
    10. Using your teeth as tools: Never resort to tearing tape, opening bottles, or holding items with your teeth. Don’t chew on non-food objects, either. These habits could crack your teeth or cause restoration work to fall out.

    If you have more questions about maintaining good oral health, don’t hesitate to ask! Dr. Spalitto and the rest of the team at West County Dental would be happy to guide you toward a flawless, beautiful smile. We have over a decade of experience providing state-of-the-art dental care to patients in St. Louis. Call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online to reserve an appointment today.

  • How Dark Teeth Affect Your Appearance

    Are your teeth stained or discolored? If so, you may look older than you really are. Other people might also assume that you have poor oral hygiene or don’t care much about your appearance. By whitening your teeth and avoiding future stains, you can make sure you give off the right impression!

    What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

    Enamel and dentin are the two parts of your teeth that affect their appearance. Enamel—the thin, hard outer covering of your teeth—protects the dentin beneath it. Healthy enamel is a translucent white, allowing the color of the dentin to show through. Stained enamel and darkened dentin can cause teeth to lose their pearly white glow. Here are some examples of why teeth discolor:

    • Genetics: Every person has a different level of natural tooth whiteness. This largely comes down to genetics, but other factors also affect the color of your teeth.
    • Age: Young teeth generally appear whiter and more luminous. Then, as enamel ages, it begins to take on a dull, grey appearance. It’s important to remember that teeth naturally darken with age, even if you maintain a good oral care routine.
    • Food and drinks: Acidic, dark, or brightly colored food and beverages can discolor your teeth. Examples include tomato sauce, berries, soda, coffee, and wine. Food stains can make your teeth look dirty and uncared for, no matter how diligently you brush and floss.
    • Tobacco: Smoking and chewing tobacco cause some of the worst tooth stains. First, they turn your teeth yellow. And if you don’t drop the habit, your teeth could eventually develop brown, grimy streaks.
    • Injury or disease: If you get hit in the mouth while playing sports, the blood flow to an injured tooth could be disrupted, causing it to darken. Some diseases and medications can also make dentin appear yellower.

    Treating Stained Teeth

    Professional teeth whitening is a popular way to remove stains and transform your smile. You could be a good candidate if food and drinks, smoking, and age have discolored your teeth. It’s possible to lighten your teeth by several shades in a single sitting, leaving you with a younger, healthier-looking smile.

    If your dentin is discolored, whitening products may not penetrate deep enough to provide the desired results. Fortunately, other cosmetic dentistry options are available, including crowns and veneers, which can hide discolored teeth and brighten your smile for years to come.

    Once your teeth are white and beautiful, prevent future staining with these tips:

    • Brush twice a day.
    • Floss daily.
    • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.
    • Get your teeth cleaned regularly.
    • Swish your mouth with water after consuming staining foods and drinks.

    Ready for those pearly whites you’ve always wanted? Come to West County Dental for help transforming your smile! Dr. Spalitto offers a range of restorative and cosmetic procedures to create the smile of your dreams. Call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online to reserve your appointment today.