If you have had healthy teeth most of your life, then a sudden increase in cavities or dental decay can leave you wondering what you are doing wrong. If you haven't changed your brushing, flossing, or eating habits, then it may be time to become a dental detective and look into seemingly unrelated new habits that could give you clues into why your perfect oral health is suddenly declining. Here are three habits that may be affecting your teeth in strange ways.
1. Biting Your Nails
If you have just started the bad habit of nail-biting, then you likely realize that it is making your nails appear unsightly and you are increasing your chances of becoming ill by sticking dirty fingers in your mouth. While biting your nails may not affect your teeth much on its own (unless you wear braces), researchers found a link between nail biting and tooth erosion.
They found that nail-biting is only one of several habits caused by anxiety, and many people who bite their nails may also unknowingly grind their teeth. Since teeth-grinding is often done at night, leading to people who grind without even knowing they do it, if you bite your nails during the day, then it is a good idea to have a family member or trusted friend watch you closely one night while sleeping to see if they catch you grinding.
The good news is that, unlike nail-biting that often takes pure will-power to stop, a special mouth-guard from your dentist can halt your nighttime tooth grinding easily when you wear it every night.
2. Kissing Your Dog
If you just adopted a new dog that you frequently kiss, then you may think it is fine because you compare it to kissing a human who also has bacteria in their mouth, such as a spouse or child.
However, while humans and dogs both have oral bacteria that can be transferred through kisses, dogs' mouths typically contain three bacteria that cause gum disease in much higher quantities than in human mouths.
So, if your gum health is on the decline since you adopted your new dog and started kissing him, then look for new ways to show your affection. No gum-health treatments can really do their job when the bacteria they kill in your mouth is quickly replaced by new bacteria each time you give your dog a kiss.
3. Not Sleeping Enough
If you were getting a great night's sleep when your teeth were much healthier and you now get much less due to a new job or an extra class you are taking, then that can be a clue into why you are getting more cavities or suddenly notice signs of gum disease.
First of all, not sleeping enough takes a huge toll on your immune system. This can lead to a decline in your general health, including the health of your teeth and gums. While lack of sleep won't cause gum disease, if you had mild gum disease and didn't realize it, your lack of immunity when not getting enough sleep may have allowed it to become worse, so it is finally showing signs.
Also, a lack of sleep is often accompanied by an increase in caffeine consumption to stay awake and alert, and caffeine is a diuretic that can dehydrate you and cause dry mouth. A dry mouth does not have enough saliva to keep cavities at bay. Also, if you opt for soda to as your caffeine source instead of coffee, then you may also be experiencing tooth erosion due to the acids present in even diet soda.
Sleep is very important for your oral health and overall health, so make it a priority, even when you have a jam-packed schedule. Even if you have to cut an hour or two from your work schedule or take one less class a semester to be able to sleep a full 7-8 hours each night, find any way you can to sleep more if you are so sleep deprived that it is affecting your immunity and leading to other bad habits that affect your oral health.
If your teeth or gums are suddenly taking a turn for the worse, then the cause may not be obvious. Speak to your dentist about what he or she thinks may be the cause of your suddenly-worse oral health if you don't engage in any of these three bad habits. You can go to this site to learn more about dental services in your area that may help.