Terrible Habits Dentists Want You to Stop Doing Right Now

Dental experts warn against poor oral hygiene habits that people think are a good idea—but are actually doing harm.

“Whether you’re 80 or eight years old, your oral health is important,” said Rupali Kulkarni, a trained dentist, assistant director of the postgraduate oral medicine program at Penn Dental Medicine and spokeswoman for the American Dental Association (ADA). newsweek,

“Your mouth is a window into the health of your body and touches every aspect of our lives.

“It may show signs of nutrient deficiencies or general infections. Systemic diseases, which affect the entire body, may first become apparent as mouth sores or other oral problems.”

How many teeth does a human have?

Humans develop two sets of teeth in their lifetime. Babies are usually born with 20 baby teeth, although these don’t begin to appear or erupt until about six months of age.

Usually by the age of three, the full set of 20 teeth have erupted, and usually by the age of 12, all baby teeth have fallen out.

Each of these baby teeth fall out at different times and, eventually, they are replaced by an adult tooth. In total, adult humans typically develop 32 teeth – including eight incisors, four canines, eight premolars and 12 molars – which all erupt in the late teens or early twenties.

Adult teeth begin to develop in the jaws at birth, and this development continues as the individual grows older. The last of the adult teeth are wisdom teeth, which are a type of molar. In some people, wisdom teeth have to be removed because they cause problems. For others, wisdom teeth never even develop in the first place, or simply don’t erupt.

Bad habits for teeth?

According to Kulkarni, one of the most common oral hygiene habits that can have a negative impact is brushing too hard or using a toothbrush that’s too hard.

Stock image of woman in need of dental treatment. “Your mouth is a window into the health of your body and touches every aspect of our lives,” dentist Rupali Kulkarni told Newsweek.
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Any of these habits can potentially damage both the teeth and gums, leading to problems ranging from loss of enamel to loss of gums.

People who brush too hard, or use a brush that’s too hard, may also begin to notice that their teeth become more sensitive because the parts that were previously covered by the gums are exposed.

Instead of using a hard toothbrush or brushing too hard, use a soft one with the ADA seal of approval at the proper pressure. Kulkarni said: “Don’t think scrubs. Think massage.”

food stuck in teeth

The Oral Health Foundation (OHF), a UK-based non-profit organization, says that using a cocktail stick to remove bits of food between teeth can be quite harmful to the mouth and gums.

In fact, sticking anything between your teeth that isn’t ergonomically designed to fit in these spaces — such as an interdental brush — can be relatively dangerous, according to information provided to Newsweek by the helpline.

In a 2016 survey by OHF, the most commonly used items for cleaning between teeth (beyond brushing and flossing) were cocktail sticks (39 percent), business cards (10 percent) and banknotes (4 percent).

Cocktail Stick Teeth
Stock image of a man using a cocktail stick to clean his teeth. Dentists say that people should only use floss to get food out of the gaps between their teeth.
Getty Images

In an interview with dentistry.co.uk, OHF CEO Dr. Nigel Carter said: “Having access to an earring or business card can be convenient, or even amusing, but really This is very worrying. Things like this can easily damage the tooth. And do real damage to the gums, as well as risk infection by being incredibly unhygienic.

“Our gums can be very sensitive and once damaged it takes a long time to heal, so please put those banknotes down, you don’t really know where they are, and make sure you get some Keep dental floss on hand if you need to.”

If you have food stuck between your teeth, use dental floss or an interdental brush to remove it instead of a cocktail stick.

teeth whitening at home

Some people use a mixture of pure bicarbonate of lemon juice and soda as a homemade teeth whitener, which can damage your enamel—the hard, shiny, white outer layer of teeth.

This is really a bad idea. Damaged enamel means that your teeth become more sensitive and there is an increased risk of developing cavities.

In an article for Gentle Dentistry, Dr. Stephanie Bush-Abbett said: “It is a myth that you can safely whiten teeth with lemon juice and baking soda. Unlike toothpaste, baking soda is abrasive and Will wear away your tooth enamel over time. Similarly, lemon juice is too acidic to sit on the surface of your teeth.”

Teeth Whitening
Stock image showing a popular home recipe for teeth whitening. Dentists say that it is not good to use bicarbonate of lemon and soda to get white teeth.
Getty Images

Bush-Abbett also said there’s no evidence to suggest oil pulling, where you swirl edible oil around the mouth, helps whiten teeth. “It is important to understand that many factors affect teeth whitening, such as smoking, eating food that is staining, and neglecting oral health,” she wrote. “While it may appear that oil pulling helps whiten teeth, the difference may be due to something as simple as how much coffee you drink.”

When it comes to teeth whitening, make sure you get the procedure done by a licensed dentist.

Ulcer and toothache treatment

Clove oil is sometimes used as an antiseptic and to ease the pain of a tooth or ulcer. While it is true that dentists use clove oil, it is always highly diluted and applied by a trained professional.

A study published in 2016 showed that clove oil can be used to help manage pain.

An article on Drugs.com states that clove is often sold as an herbal supplement, of which there are no regulated manufacturing standards.

Common side effects for people using cloves inside the mouth include sore or swollen gums, bleeding, and mouth irritation. People who have liver disease, a weakened immune system, allergies, or blood clotting or bleeding disorders should talk to their doctor before using clove.

How often should you change your toothbrush?

To maintain good oral hygiene, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, ensuring cleanliness between teeth every day.

Changing your toothbrush regularly is a must.

According to the ADA, if you have an electric toothbrush, you should replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three to four months, or more often if the bristles become tangled or frayed. The more worn a toothbrush is, the less effective it will be as a tool for cleaning your teeth.

While research has shown that toothbrushes contain bacteria, the available evidence suggests that these germs are generally not harmful to us.

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