With the majority of us now at home more than usual, our new routines may be affecting our health habit - especially when it comes to our teeth.
Are you snacking more often? Or maybe drinking more wine at the end of the day? Plus, with national stress levels much higher than usual, you could be grinding teeth at night. Follow our tips and these daily habits won’t take such a toll. Here’s how…
1. Adding ice to drinks can protect teeth
'The more acidic a drink is, the worse it will be for your enamel. That, coupled with the high sugar (opens in new tab) content in alcoholic drinks, can be disastrous to your teeth,' warns Dr Mihir Shah, Head Dentist at Battersea Park Dental (opens in new tab) and supporter of DenTek (opens in new tab). 'Where possible, adding ice to your drinks reduces the risk of damage to your teeth. Not only does it dilute your drink, it reduces the amount of acid because it’s colder. Drinking through a straw also helps.'
2. Look after teeth with a night guard
Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. But emotional stress, especially around COVID-19, can lead to tooth grinding. “Clenching your teeth at night while you sleep can result in some serious consequences. This includes sleeping disorders, chronic jaw pain, broken or loose teeth, and severe headaches,” says Dr Shah. “If you already clench and grind, stress could make the habit worse. It can lead to problems with the Temporomandibular joint that’s located in front of your ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. Try a night guard, worn as you sleep, or another appliance to help you stop or curb your grinding. During the day, try to keep your teeth slightly apart when you’re not eating.” We love DenTek Night Guard One Size Fits All (opens in new tab) (£25, Boots).
3. Don’t forget to floss
It’s easy to lose track of oral hygiene when your routine is disrupted. But it could play havoc with your health. 'Depending on the size of the gaps in-between your teeth, both interdental brushes and floss picks can be effective,' says Dr Shah. 'If your teeth are crowded or very tight against each other, you may not be able to fit an interdental brush through the gap. If so, flossing should still be a very important part of your cleaning regime.'
4. Never attempt to whiten teeth from home
While being at home could make you tempted to give your smile a bit of a boost, wait until you can see a professional. 'Home whitening remedies do not safely and effectively whiten teeth,” says Dr Shah. 'Products like baking soda are mild abrasive, which will remove surface stains from your teeth, but won't actually change the colour of them. Long term use of these can irreversibly damage your enamel. They can also lead to sensitivity. Some other home remedies are even worse (such as lemon juice) as they are acidic and will strip enamel.' To help you achieve a naturally whiter smile, without damaging your teeth try the new Beverly Hills Formula Perfect White Extreme White Toothpaste. (opens in new tab)
5. Watch out for sugary treats
While it’s tempting to graze all day, it can damage teeth. 'Avoid grazing to avoid tooth decay,' says Dr Shah. 'But it’s not the amount, but the frequency of sugar in your diet (opens in new tab) that causes tooth decay. Spreading your sugary treats throughout the day might seem sensible, but is worse for your teeth as you are exposing them to a ‘sugar attack’ multiple times.'
Faye M Smith is a Senior Health And Lifestyle writer working across Woman & Home, Feel Good You, Woman’s Own and Woman magazine. Having gained an NCTJ postgraduate diploma, Faye has worked for 15 years in journalism, covering a range of lifestyle topics for companies including the BBC, Press Association, News UK and Hachette.
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