Your tooth enamel is the hardest biological material in our body - harder than even bone. But despite its strength, it is still susceptible to damage from some surprisingly common culprits. Keeping enamel safe and intact is the best way to maintain the health of your teeth, but many people don’t realize these common behaviors could be putting their enamel at risk.
Chewing on ‘Things’
Our teeth were meant to chew on food. The back teeth, called molars, are great for crunching vegetables and other hard foods. The canines are used to chew softer but tough foods such as meats. The premolars assist in the chewing of all foods, and the incisors (your front teeth) are used for biting and cutting food - for example, biting into a carrot or apple.
But when you chew on things that aren’t food - such as pen caps, fingernails or straws - you are putting your enamel at risk for excessive wear.
Grinding or Bruxism
Grinding your teeth (known as bruxism) is a common problem - in fact, it is estimated that 8 percent of adults grind their teeth, many without even realizing it. Some people even grind their teeth in their sleep.
Unfortunately, this behavior, which is often stress induced, can cause major damage, such as chips, cracks and excessive or uneven wear to the tooth enamel. If you know or suspect that you might grind your teeth, contact Dr. Lederman for an evaluation. It may be fixed by wearing a simple mouth guard, or it could be more complicated and require treatment for temporomandibular joint disorder.
Not brushing your teeth frequently enough can cause cavities when little bacteria known as s. mutans create an acidic biproduct - commonly known as plaque - that wears away at the enamel. Brushing washes this bacteria away and deposits fluoride on the teeth, strengthening your enamel as it cleans.
Not Wearing a Sports Mouth Guard
It’s imperative when you play sports to protect your teeth with a mouth guard. All it takes is a second to fall while roller or ice skating or to get hit in the mouth with a baseball or hockey puck. You can even take an elbow to the mouth and chip a tooth - the possibilities are endless. Boil-and-bite guards are great for protecting teeth, but they tend to be cumbersome and bulky.
If you or your child are an avid athlete, speak to Dr. Lederman about creating a customized mouth guard that you’ll want to wear.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lederman, please call 516-882-1764.