Healthy habits that are bad for your teeth

With so much conflicting advice out there on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, it can be hard to know who to trust. You might think you’re doing all the right things, only for new research or a different perspective to reveal that your wholesome choices aren’t quite so good for you.

With this in mind we wanted to highlight a few ‘healthy’ habits that could do more harm than good to your smile:

#1 Enthusiastic brushing

More time spent brushing equals cleaner, healthier teeth, right? Wrong. Excessive brushing can wear away the enamel that protects your teeth and damage your gums. Research tells us that it’s far better just to brush twice a day, for two minutes. Use a gentle pressure and don’t forget to clean in between your teeth once a day too.

#2 Smoothies

While smoothies and juices can be full of goodness, they’re often also full of sugar and can be highly acidic. This is bad news for your teeth, and frequent prolonged exposure to sugars and acid can lead to tooth decay and dental erosion. Despite the marketing buzz around smoothies, which are regularly touted as ‘two of your five a day’, try to see them as a treat. It’s also better to opt for vegetable-based smoothies, which contain less sugar.

#3 Grazing

Eating little and often might seem like a good way to keep your body topped up with energy and avoid a post-meal slump, but unfortunately, grazing isn’t so great for your teeth. Just after eating your mouth becomes more acidic thanks to bacteria feasting on the sugars in your diet and turning them into acid. Over time your saliva neutralises this acidity, but the next time you eat or drink the process starts again. So if you’re frequently snacking throughout the day, your mouth is likely to stay acidic for long periods, which again can cause tooth decay and acid erosion.

#4 Brushing too soon

Brushing straight after eating may seem like a good idea, to rid your mouth and teeth of any leftover morsels of food – before they have a chance to get settled. However, as we’ve learnt, the problem with this is that your mouth is more acidic just after eating. This means the enamel that protects your teeth will be slightly softened and you run the risk of damaging it with your toothbrush and good intentions. Instead, wait 30 minutes for your enamel to re-harden before you brush.

#5 Diet drinks

No one will dispute that sugar-laden fizzy drinks are bad news for your teeth, but are diet alternatives risk-free? While they contain little or no sugar, diet drinks still contain teeth-damaging acids. Researchers at the University of Michigan looked at the impact of Coca-Cola and Diet Coca-Cola on tooth enamel and found that the diet variety was actually slightly more harmful. To limit damage from fizzy drinks, try drinking through a straw. Or, better yet, opt for a tooth-friendly alternative such as water or milk.

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