4 Ways You’re Actually Hurting Your Bright Smile

coffee cup filled with coffee on a plate and next to a spoon

Everybody wants a great smile, but it can be hard work. If you are trying to improve your oral health and brighten up your smile, there are a number of ways you might be setting yourself back. Some are obvious, while others might surprise you. Breaking these four common habits can help get you back on track:

1. Forgetting to Floss

Flossing is easy to forget, but it’s essential to a healthy smile. Flossing once a day as part of your regular brushing routine may not seem like a big deal, but it can make a huge difference. Floss reaches the space between teeth that even the best toothbrushes can miss. Food and plaque gets stuck in these spaces, and flossing is the best way to clean house.

It may take a little practice to get your flossing technique just right. Start with about 18 inches of clean floss, and hold it taut as you slide it gently up and down between your teeth. Adjust the positioning of the floss with each tooth so that you’re always using a clean section.

2. Sipping on Coffee

Few substances have more power to stain your teeth than coffee. Tannin particles from dark-colored drinks like coffee (along with red wine and soda) can become embedded in the pits and ridges in the enamel of your teeth, leading to yellowing stains. Contrary to popular myth, adding cream to your coffee does not make it less likely to stain.

One of the best ways to whiten your teeth is to abstain from coffee. For most of us, that’s simply unacceptable, but there are ways to manage your coffee consumption and still protect your teeth. Instead of completely eliminating your favorite hot beverage, try to confine coffee-drinking to short, specific parts of the day rather than nursing cup after cup all day long. If possible, brush after drinking your morning joe or swirl water around in your mouth if you don’t have easy access to your toothbrush.

3. Brushing Right After a Meal

Brushing your teeth after every meal used to be considered good advice, but newer research begs to differ. According to Colgate, exposure to acidic food and drink during meals softens the enamel of your teeth, and brushing immediately afterward can cause erosion.

Of course, it’s still a good idea to make regular brushing a part of your oral hygiene routine, but always wait at least a full hour after ingesting acidic food or drinks before you brush your teeth.

4. Indulging in Desserts

Cutting back on junk food is a smart move for a variety of reasons, and your teeth will thank you. Fortunately, you don’t have to completely ditch dessert, so your stomach will thank you too! Try to steer clear of sugary snacks and desserts, especially those with a sticky or gooey texture that adhere to your teeth the longest. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth that causes plaque and gingivitis. Instead, opt for healthier snacks with lower sugar content, like granola, fresh fruits and vegetables, unsweetened cereal, nuts, sunflower seeds, low-fat cheese and yogurt.

Your smile will thank you after you change these four common habits. Taking care of your teeth is easy! For more information on other ways to practice perfect oral care, reach out to your dentist.