One of the biggest attributes people see about themselves and each other is a smile. A person’s smile can be sardonic, smug, joyful or forced. It can reveal so much about a person and can instantly make you feel happy and at ease. Smiling can change your mood. Making yourself smile can actually change your emotions from sad to happy; the mere motion of smiling is that powerful.
Pretty cool, right?!
But because it is such a huge thing, some people really dislike their smile – their teeth more importantly. How many people do you notice purposely not showing their teeth when they smile? There are even more people who will openly say that they don’t like their teeth and they wish they could change something about them.
Yet, people constantly do things that harm and damage their teeth and gums. It is mostly unintentional, and sometimes because they have heard something misleading. The quickest way to understand how you are damaging your teeth is to understand what makes up their composition.
Anatomy Of A Tooth
- The first layer is the pulp (the inside of your teeth) it’s the soft part where the nerve endings and blood vessels are.
- The second layer is the dentin. This is full of tiny tubes that lead to the pulp.
- The third is the enamel – which you have probably heard of before. The enamel is the shield between the outside world and your inner tooth, and it is the hardest substance in the human body. And still, this is the part most people damage on a daily basis.
Enamel is what makes your teeth look white. Without it, they take on an off-white or grayish color which is a lot easier to stain. Some foods stain teeth more than others.
Common Foods That Damage Your Teeth
- Candy – The sugar in candy rots your teeth – you’ve heard it before. But the worst thing is the acid within candy which attacks the enamel and almost disintegrates it. Sour candies have a higher acidity level, and hard or chewy candies stick to the teeth and allow the sugar more exposure to the tooth. If you’re craving something sugary, choose something sweet that you can brush away quickly. Fruit or sugar-free gum are good choices.
- Tea & Coffee – The discoloration that you so often see on teeth happens because of things like tea and coffee. The brown stain created by these drink when you put them on paper is similar to what happens to your teeth. Enamel isn’t a smooth surface, and the dye from tea and coffee gets caught in the ridges of the enamel. This discoloration can be worse when the dentin is exposed.
- Carbonated drinks – The carbon in these drinks allow plaque to produce more acid which attacks your teeth. Nothing good comes from fizzy drinks. (Plaque is the film that coats your mouth after eating – it causes damage to both teeth and gums.)
- Citrus – Food that is high in citric acids, like lemons and oranges, is again going to be bad for your teeth. Why? You guessed it – the acid.
- Sticky food – Same as the chewy sweets, any food that sticks to your teeth, even seemingly healthier foods like dried fruit, can cause damage. The stickiness of dried fruit allows the sugar to remain attached to the teeth for longer.
- Ice – Although not technically food, a lot of people like to chew on ice. The solid substance can be damaging to your teeth by weakening the enamel. It can also cause acute pain when the enamel has already begun to be worn away. The sudden shock of ice to the nerves with the pulp of your teeth can cause a serious toothache.
- Alcohol – But not for the reason you think. Yes, alcohol can be high in sugar, and even citrus, but the main reason alcohol is bad for your teeth is that it dries your mouth out. Saliva washes away food particles; it works against sticky food, and can even repair early signs of infection. So when things like alcohol push it away, you take away your body’s natural defense against all the harmful bacteria in food.
It is nearly impossible to escape all the foods that can cause damage to your teeth. So, while being cautious of the different things you are submitting your teeth to, you can be helping them stay healthy and strong. You can do this in a number of ways.
Tips For Keeping Your Teeth Healthy
1. Be choosy about your toothpaste.
Don’t automatically go for the one that looks the best or is the cheapest. The American Dental Association suggests that you keep an eye out for a tube of toothpaste which has their seal of approval. They say that a good toothpaste contains the usual materials, plus added ones which prevent decay and reduces sensitivity – click here for more information. Personally, I look for natural ingredients. You can also look into products that contain activated charcoal to help whiten your teeth.
2. Be mindful of what you’re eating.
You already know to avoid food that is high in acidity and sugar, but what should you be eating? The simple answer is calcium. Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese will fortify your bones – including your teeth. You heard it while growing up, and it is as true today as it was then; calcium grows strong bones. If you’re not into dairy products there are many other calcium-rich foods including broccoli, kale, figs, bok choy, canned salmon, white beans and oranges.
3. Stop grinding your teeth at night.
Grinding your teeth can be caused by stress, or it can simply be a bad habit. Either way, what you are doing, intentionally or not, is rubbing the too hardest surfaces within the human body against each other. Have you ever considered why elderly people have more trouble with their teeth? It is often because of years of chewing – of grinding their teeth together. You have to do it while you eat, so why speed up the effects? You can prevent grinding by getting a tooth guard to wear at night. And if you do it during the day, work to break the habit.
Brushing is a tricky one. Brush twice a day; once in the morning and again in the evening, for at least five minutes at a time. And it is recommended to brush and floss after eating sweets, consuming tea, coffee, alcohol, or eating anything high in sugar. But there is always the fear of over-brushing. Brushing your teeth too often strips away the enamel quicker, so rather than the white smile you’re dreaming about, you could get a gray one if you aren’t careful.
If you have already damaged your teeth or gums, there are still things you can do.
5. Repairing Damaged Teeth
The first thing you need to do is to see your dentist. There may be work that needs doing to repair any teeth with cavities, or to remove any that are beyond saving. Your dentist can also help clear up any infections that may have taken root.
These things are never fun, but once they are done, you are back on the road to the perfect smile you have always wanted. After any work has been done (even before it even starts) look at your diet and lifestyle to help prevent future dental problems.
Following any procedures, you may have gaps in your teeth, misshapen teeth, discoloration or just a crooked smile you don’t like. Again there are things you can do – caps can be fitted onto teeth, and false teeth can look so natural these days you wouldn’t even tell, to name just a couple.
There are even procedures that can repair receded gums. Read this article for more about it. You can also see about having braces fitted to correct any crookedness if you choose, from train-tracks, retainers and invisible braces – they are no way near as bulky as they were even ten years ago.
Loving Your Smile
At the end of the day your thoughts about your body can have a harmful effect on your mental health. Concern over body image can cause anxiety; if you are worried about people looking at a part of your body you don’t like, then it’s not a big jump to not leaving the house to avoid anyone looking at you at all. Isolating yourself from the world will only exasperate any anxiety and can lead to depression.
There is no one in the world exactly like you. God made you special for a reason, so embrace who you are! Small changes can make a big difference in your outlook and happiness – so flash that gorgeous smile and live the life you’ve always dreamed.
Do you have any tips to share?
Leave your comments below in the comment section. I love hearing your unique perspective!
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