8 ways you’re damaging your teeth without even realising

8 ways you're damaging your teeth

Step away from the lemon water!

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / August 06 2018

Are you damaging your teeth without even knowing it? If you’re guzzling down lemon water on the regular or skipping your daily flossing, you could be damaging your pearly whites a whole lot more than you realise. And did you know that sparkling water is just as bad for your teeth as a soft drink? We didn’t!

While some of these dental habits may damage your teeth instantly, others may add up over time and seriously harm your dental health in the long run. We spoke to two Sydney dentists to find out the most common dental bad habits that you need to stop doing ASAP.

1 / Brushing incorrectly

You’d be forgiven for thinking that brushing your teeth with extra enthusiasm will make them ultra clean, however doing so can actually wear down your enamel, irritate your gums and make your teeth more sensitive. It can even cause cavities. Eek!

Dr Lewis Ehrlich from Sydney Holistic Dental Centre says, “People are brushing with a medium bristle or hard bristle because they think it will do a superior job. In reality, the majority of people should be using a soft bristle toothbrush because it reduces your risk of stripping away your gums.”

It also seems people aren’t actually brushing their teeth often enough. “Statistics released by the Australian Dental Association this year showed that only around 50 per cent of Australians brush their teeth twice a day. Brushing twice a day for two minutes is crucial to reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.”

2 / Rinsing after you brush

Do you rinse your mouth out after you brush? According to Dr Aodhan Docherty from About Smiles Dental Centres, this is actually a SUPER common mistake. “Most of us will have a rinse with water after we brush, but this is not what we should be doing,” he says. “We should be spitting and then avoiding the rinse so that we can leave the residual fluoride from the toothpaste in the mouth, which helps to protect your teeth and repair them.” 

3 / Drinking acidic drinks

Adding a slice of lemon to your tea or water on the daily may seem like a good way to up your vitamin C, however it’s actually seriously bad for your teeth. Dr Docherty says lemons are packed with acid, which can erode tooth enamel over time. “Lemon juices and other citric drinks (such as apple cider vinegar) have become very popular for both cleansing and weight loss, however they are incredibly acidic and erode the teeth just like soft drinks do!” he explains.

“I have seen a massive increase in the number of young females in their 20s coming through my door with short, thin, translucent teeth due to lemon juice,” Dr Docherty says. “These teeth have been worn down in such a short period of time because the mouth is being bathed daily in acid. These patients tend to develop considerable sensitivity, jaw issues, and the appearance of their face may also change when the teeth become very short.”

The same goes for red wine, coffee and tea – if you drink a lot of these types of beverages they can stain your teeth over time, affecting the appearance of your smile. “I always tell my patients that they can have most foods and drinks in moderation. Broadly speaking, those drinks that are fairly acidic such as apple cider vinegar, lemon water, juices, soft drinks and energy drinks should be kept to an absolute minimum as these are very damaging to the teeth. Furthermore, those that are carbonated or contain large amounts of sugar should also be avoided as they promote erosive wear of the teeth and decay.” 

It may also surprise you to know that your favourite no-calorie drink isn’t as healthy as it claims to be *gasps*. Sparkling mineral water can be just as damaging for your teeth as orange juice, and is actually a very common cause of dental decay. So try and ditch soft drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices in favour of still, clean water.

4 / Clenching or grinding

Clenching or grinding your teeth is likely something you don’t even know you’re doing. Many people grind their teeth in their sleep and don’t realise it until their teeth start wearing down. “This is often related to stress and poor breathing whilst sleeping,” says Dr Ehrlich. The solution? Talk to your dentist about a mouthguard that can be worn during sleep to help protect your teeth and jaw – it may not look amazing, but it’ll save your teeth in the long run!

5 / Eating sugary foods

Do you have a sweet tooth? Try to eat sugar-packed foods in small doses and brush your teeth twice a day to ensure the sugary stuff doesn’t hang around in your mouth and cause cavities.

Dr Ehrlich explains that consuming highly-processed and refined sugars can lead to tooth decay and tooth erosion: “Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body. If you are getting holes in your teeth or they are eroding away, it is scary to think what your dietary choices would be doing elsewhere in the body. We should be eating natural, wholefoods that are rich in fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K.” 

Additionally, Dr Ehrlich recommends eating chewy, hard, healthy foods: “These days, food is soft, sticky, sweet and highly processed. Put your teeth and jaw bones to work the way nature intended. This will help to stimulate healthy saliva, which neutralises acid and keeps your teeth strong. ” 

Enamel is the outer layer of your teeth and is responsible for protecting the rest of your tooth. Similar to your bones, it’s mostly made of calcium and phosphate. Although it’s much stronger, it can still chip or crack and is susceptible to decay.


6 / Avoid snacking between meals

If you’re a serial grazer, you may want to try and cut back on the snacks because it turns out they could be damaging your teeth more than you think.

Dr Docherty says, “During main meal time our body produces lots of saliva that helps with breaking down food. This saliva also helps to protect our teeth by washing away the cavity-causing acids produced by the bacteria that live in our mouth. Between meal times this saliva flow is much lower, hence we have less natural protection for our teeth.” 

In short, snacking frequently equals less saliva (your teeth’s friend!) and more acid (not a friend). 

7 / Flossing incorrectly (or not flossing at all!)

A lot of people often wonder if flossing is even necessary, especially if you can’t see any food between your teeth. As annoying as it may be, you should be flossing once a day – without fail. Flossing your teeth actually does about 40 per cent of the work required to remove sticky bacteria, or plaque, from your teeth – so yes, it’s a damn important step! “Don’t just brush – floss and brush your tongue as well!” stresses Dr Ehrlich.

“Many people don’t floss and don’t know how to do it well. We need to take the floss underneath the gums. It is the bacteria that live underneath the gums that cause the most inflammation and damage to our health. Bacteria that live on the tongue are also a major contributor to bad breath,” says Dr Ehrlich.

8 / Avoiding the dentist

When was the last time you paid a trip to the dentist? Taking care of your teeth means more than regularly brushing and flossing at home. “We should be getting our gums cleaned and our mouths thoroughly checked twice a year,” recommends Dr Ehrlich.

If you need to up your dental health, check out these fast and easy ways to fix your biggest teeth woes (they can actually make you and your teeth look younger!). 

Are you guilty of any of these dental health mistakes? Let us know in the comments below.

Main image credit: Getty

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.