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Even if you brush and floss diligently, it’s likely that over time you’ve picked up one or two of these bad habits that could be compromising your oral health.

We’ll admit it—we often spend our time providing dental hygiene tips to help kids learn how to take care of their teeth properly, but oftentimes it’s the adults who need the reminder. Over adulthood, it is likely that you’ve developed a couple of daily habits that could be undermining your efforts to brush diligently twice a day and book your appointment at the dentist twice a year—if the latter made you feel a bit guilty, click here to book your overdue dental cleaning and check-up at Ladysmith Smiles before you continue reading.

At Ladysmith Smiles, we love seeing smiles of all ages, every day. In doing so, we are able to recognize a few patterns in dental hygiene amongst adults. Here are five of the most common bad dental habits:

Forgetting how to clean teeth properly.

We are very conscious to use the term ‘clean teeth’ as opposed to ‘brush teeth’ and here’s why. Proper oral hygiene requires cleaning all the nooks and crannies, which means flossing is necessary alongside brushing. In fact, flossing should be done first, followed by brushing, so that all of the food debris and plaque removed while flossing can be brushed away. While most Canadians (73 percent) are brushing twice or more a day, only about a quarter (28 percent) are flossing five times a week.  At Ladysmith Smiles, our dentists and hygienist recommend flossing just once a day to ensure the gum tissue doesn’t become damaged. Since we tend to have a little more time in the evenings opposed to the morning, it’s a good idea to make flossing a part of your evening oral hygiene routine. Gum tissue damage (receding gums) is common amongst adults and can lead to the exposure of dentin below the gum surface. With brushing too harshly being a common cause of damaged gums, adults should be careful not to be misled—brushing harder does not lead to healthier teeth. Brushing too vigorously can also wear down the teeth’s enamel, which can leave permanent damage. During dental check-ups at Ladysmith Smiles, our dentists and hygienists look for signs of over brushing. Along with reducing the pressure used while brushing, our dental professionals may recommend individuals switch to a soft bristle toothbrush or an electric toothbrush with a built-in pressure sensor, which alerts you when you are applying too much pressure.

Tobacco use.

If you’re looking for another reason to add to your Quit Using Tobacco list, you can add this: Tobacco can cause staining, oral concern, loss of bone density in the jaw, gum disease, and bad breath. Though tobacco use is threatening to one’s overall health, it has a direct impact on oral health. Tobacco causes inflammation of the salivary glands, which reduces saliva production—it is impossible to maintain good oral health without an adequate amount of salvia.

In more severe cases, tobacco use can cause oral cancer and/or periodontitis (gum disease), which can cause one’s teeth to fall out altogether. During your cleaning and check-up at Ladysmith Smiles, our dentists conduct an oral cancer screening examination. Along with a visual exam and a series of lifestyle questions, our team of dentist and hygienists often will request an X-ray be taken to help detect signs of oral cancer and other dental issues early in their development. Patients who are smokers and use tobacco regularly are advised to increase the frequency of their dental visits to a minimum of three to four times a year. To book your next dental cleaning in Ladysmith, click here.

Eating or drinking constantly.

Sipping on your coffee all day? Always have a snack at your desk? Constant snacking and drinking is often one of the hardest bad dental habits for adults to break. When we eat or drink, often our mouth becomes an acidic environment, which is the result of the mouth bacteria working to break down whatever was just consumed. This results in acid, which causes cavities. This is why our saliva is so important for optimal oral health as it contains calcium and phosphates to help neutralize the acid and return your mouth to a neutral pH after each food or drink consumption. The problem is, if you’re always snacking or drinking (water is the exception), your saliva doesn’t have the time that it needs to neutralize. When the mouth lives in a state of acidity a damaging layer of plaque and tartar will start to build.

This being said, some snacks impact your oral health more than others. It’s no surprise that drinking sugary, carbonated drinks or consuming carbohydrate-filled munchies are not the best choices—except for the bacteria living in our mouth that thrive with this decision. Raw vegetables, fresh fruit and nuts are all great healthy snack options. Regardless of your chosen snack or drink, do not brush your teeth immediately after consuming. Your mouth will be in a state of acidity immediately after eating or drinking, which causes the enamel to be weaker. Thus, brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking and before your saliva has time to return your mouth to a neutral pH, can do more harm than good. If possible, wait a minimum of 20-30 minutes before brushing your teeth after a snack.

As many adults enjoy coffee in the morning—and we admit, well into the afternoon—we often see staining as a result. At Ladysmith Smiles, we offer professional teeth whitening to help brighten your smile in the comfort of your own home. Using our iTero 3D technology, our team is able to create an exact digital replication of your smile without the need for messy impressions. This digital scan is used to make custom whitening trays for you to use at home with a professional gel formula for a period of two weeks—or whenever you are happy with your smile. For best results, it is recommended you begin the teeth whitening following a professional teeth cleaning, which helps to remove surface stains. To learn more about the teeth whitening process at Ladysmith Smiles, read this.

Frequent teeth grinding and clenching.

It’s no secret that adulting can be stressful. And according to the Canadian Dental Association, frequent teeth grinding (Bruxism) and clenching is caused by anxiety, stress, lack of sleep, and/or tooth misalignment. If you can check off one or more of those causes, we recommend asking your dentist if teeth grinding and clenching is something you should be concerned about. Teeth grinding and clenching happens unconsciously while either awake or asleep, so oftentimes people are unaware that they do it. Some signs you may be unknowingly suffering with Bruxism are:

  •  Face, neck and shoulder pain

  • Jaw pain, which can lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD)

  • Worn or broken teeth

  • More frequent headaches

  • Disrupted sleep

Along with custom nightguards, Ladysmith Smiles offers therapeutic botox with Dr. Nadia Malik to alleviate teeth grinding and clenching. Neuromodulators, commonly known as botox, work to relax the muscle, preventing it from contracting. By injecting botox into the masseter muscles, the unconscious motion is unable to occur. To learn more about your botox options at Ladysmith Smiles, click here.

Using your teeth as a tool.

Your teeth are not designed to be nail clippers, scissors or your third hand. Oftentimes, we see patients who have developed habits of using their teeth as an everyday, helpful tool. Be honest with yourself, when was the last time you opened a bag of chips or candy with your teeth? Held your brush in your mouth mid-ponytail? Bit your nails? If any of these habits sound familiar, it’s time to eliminate them. Not only does biting your nails or using your teeth to open something introduces bacteria and foreign germs into the mouth that could be problematic, chewing on non-edible items can lead to cracking, chipping, and even fracturing of the teeth. And while you may be able to argue that ice is an edible item, we do not recommend chewing on this either. Extremely hard items will increase your chances of damaging a tooth. If you do notice a chip or crack in your tooth, please contact your dentist immediately.

Dental Cleanings and Check-Ups in Ladysmith, BC

How many of these five bad dental habits do you do? Our team at Ladysmith Smiles is ready to help you break bad habits and get you on the road to better oral health. Returning and new patients are encouraged to pre-book their bi-annual cleanings and check-ups. Depending on the individual, more frequent dental visits may be required. Both Ladysmith Smiles and Nanaimo Smiles are currently welcoming new patients and smiles of all ages. Click here to fill out a new patient form for Ladysmith Smiles.