Tooth enamel is a pretty fascinating thing. It’s the hardest substance in the human body, and it also contains the most minerals in the human body. It’s strong enough to help your teeth exert 200 pounds of pressure when you bite down. But did you know that despite its strength there are things you simply should not do with your tooth enamel? Here are some things you may have thought were safe, but really aren’t!
Crunching on ice may seem harmless – after all, ice is just water, right? Unfortunately, when it’s in its frozen form, it can be dangerous to your teeth and even cause chips and cracks. If you really need to crunch something, reach for a carrot or some celery, and get your water the old-fashioned way!
Do you bite your nails or chew on pen caps when you get stressed? We probably don’t need to tell you that this is a bad idea for your teeth. The only thing your teeth should be chewing on is food – not plastic caps and not fingernails or cuticles. Not only can chewing hard objects chip or crack your enamel, but it can also cause damage elsewhere. For example, you can cause infection to your fingernails and cuticles from chewing on them, and you can cause infection in your gums if your nails are dirty or you cut your gums while biting your nails!
You may have heard that chewing gum after eating helps neutralize acid and keeps your breath fresh. This is all true – for sugarless gum. If you chew gum with sugar, you aren’t helping your teeth at all – in fact you’re coating them with plaque-attracting sugar that clings to your teeth and makes it easier for acid to eat away at your tooth enamel!
Grinding Your Teeth
Known as bruxism, grinding your teeth can be very dangerous for your enamel, causing uneven wear, chips, cracks and these little lines that run through the enamel called craze lines. If you find yourself grinding your teeth while you’re asleep, stuck in a traffic jam or on a particularly stressful work call, you should speak to Dr. Mingus about having a custom bite guard made. It will not only save your enamel, but it may also prevent jaw stiffness and tightness that comes from clenching the jaw.
Brushing Too Soon
Wait, what? You can damage your enamel from brushing your teeth? It’s true! If you eat acidic foods, they can actually soften the enamel of your teeth. Thankfully, the tooth enamel will harden back up in about 30 minutes, but that means if you brush too soon after consuming acidic foods, you can scratch the enamel while it’s in its soft state. If you have something acidic such as citrus, coffee or wine, rinse your mouth with water and then wait around 30 minutes before brushing so your teeth have a chance to solidify again.
Remember, your enamel may be the strongest substance in your body, but it’s irreplaceable, so take good care of it, and you’ll have a beautiful, strong, healthy smile!