Home Oral Care – Preventing Tooth Damage

Protect your tooth enamel

You may be surprised to learn that tooth enamel is actually the hardest substance in the human body. That doesn’t mean it can’t be damaged, as cracked, chipped, or broken teeth are quite common. To prevent this sort of damage, it’s very important to take care of our teeth; and this goes beyond good oral hygiene. There are many kinds of techniques, habits, and foods that can do damage to tooth enamel.

Be careful what you bite down on

Chewing on ice cubes or popcorn kernels are common examples of things people do that can cause damage to tooth enamel. Eating or drinking things with high acidic content can also weaken tooth enamel, making it more susceptible to damage.

It isn’t just food, either, as biting fingernails, chewing on pens or pencils, and opening packages with your teeth can result in damage as well.

Teeth clenching and grinding

A very common way people damage their tooth enamel is through bruxism. Bruxism is the term for jaw clenching your jaw or teeth grinding, whether done when a person is awake or asleep. When you continue to do this, your teeth become worn down, which is what we call attrition. Root dentin can become exposed if your attrition becomes serious enough. When dentin is exposed, your teeth become very sensitive to hot and cold. Not only does clenching and grinding damage teeth, it can also cause damage to the ligaments in your jaw and alveolar bone. The damage can lead to periodontal disease.

There are a number of treatments available for bruxism, including night guards and bite correction.

Oral Piercings

Oral piercings deserve special mention, as they pose a number of oral health risks.

Some of these health risks include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infections
  • Swelling
  • Chipped teeth
  • Airway Obstruction
  • Hypersalivation
  • Gum Recession
  • Scarring

Some of these issues are fairly common among people who have oral piercings. One study found that gum recession occurred in 50% of people who had a lip piercing and 44% who had a tongue piercing. In the same study, 26% of the individuals with a tongue piercing had some form of tooth damage.

Because there are no regulations over body piercings, caution must be taken when getting one. In addition to the health concerns above, there is also a risk of contracting hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases due to unclean piercing needles.

How to care for oral piercings

If you have any kind of oral piercing already, there are some ways to make sure you limit the risk of issues. Practicing good oral hygiene, like brushing and flossing twice per day, using toothpaste with fluoride, and using a mouthwash that is alcohol-free.

It is important to keep the piercing site clean and be sure to notice any signs of potential issues. These include any pain, tenderness, swelling or unusual discharges from the piercing site.

Besides choosing not to get an oral piercing, the best way to keep a healthy mouth is through good oral hygiene and routine trips to the dentist. If you do have an oral piercing, Dr. Mike or Dr. Dave will be able to give you tips on how to best care for it.

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