This week, I’ve been having a host of problems with my teeth and just discovered I may need to get braces to correct some of the issues. And timely research led me to discover that despite taking really good care of my teeth and gums, doing to the dentist twice a year and brushing and flossing daily, there are several other factors that can can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums, and put a serious damper on my smile.
Oh boy! According to Marc Liechtung, DMD, a fellow of the International Academy for Dental and Facial Aesthetics, and principal at Manhattan Dental Arts, pregnancy and a host of other factors can impact a woman’s smile.
Some of these factors include:
1. Diabetes–Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, so you’re at a risk for gum disease. Brushing, flossing, and monitoring your blood sugar can help.
2. Tobacco—Smoking not only turns your teeth yellow, the tar forms a sticky film on teeth which can lead to gum inflammation, tooth decay and loss.
3. Pregnancy--It’s especially important to take care of your teeth and gums when you’re expecting, since studies show a link between untreated gum disease and pre-term and low-birth-weight babies.
4. Diet pills–Like many over-the-counter and prescription medications, diet pills decrease salivary flow, which causes dry mouth and puts you at risk for gum disease, tooth decay, cavities, and discomfort.
5. Puberty–The hormonal surge that occurs during puberty can cause more than acne—it can also result in swollen gums that are more sensitive to plaque. This can lead to gum infections, gingivitis, and mouth sores. “But typically the gums only respond in such a manner if hygiene care is poor,” adds Dr. Liechtung. Make sure your teen brushes and flosses daily, and sees a dentist regularly.
6. Dieting--Restrictive diets and poor eating habits can deprive you of the vitamins and nutrients necessary for a beautiful smile.
7. Aging–As you age, you’re more susceptible to decay near old fillings or root surfaces unprotected by receding gum. Increasing your fluoride protection is the key.
8. Birth control pills–Because oral contraceptives mimic pregnancy, they can also lead to gum inflammation and infections, including gingivitis. If you use birth control pills, it’s not a bad idea to discuss their effect with your dentist before major procedures.
9. Too much whitening–It is not clear whether bleaching erodes tooth enamel, but it can increase sensitivity, especially when done too often. Moderation is the key.
10. Antidepressants—May cause tooth enamel defects. Their common side effect is dry mouth which can be helped by increasing your water intake.
Some of these can be controlled by taking dry mouth gels and sprays, adjusting eating habits and changing up on your lifestyle choices. Sadly, aging cannot be avoided. At least knowing is half the battle and there’s always…braces! *sigh*