You may or may not notice if you are clenching or grinding your teeth at night, but often the signs will be on the biting surfaces of your teeth. Your dental professional will be able to notice the signs. Symptoms of grinding and clenching teeth consist of headaches, neck aches, sore jaw or muscles in the cheeks, sensitive teeth and tooth chips. It is essential to wear a night guard each night if you are clenching or grinding your teeth to prevent any damage to your teeth, jaw bone and jaw joints.
If you play a contact sport such as soccer, football or basketball, it is vital to use a sports guard to protect your teeth from any possible impact. Store-bought mouth guards such as boil and bite do not protect your smile like a professionally made sports guard. Professionally made sports guards are made specifically to your teeth and create a tight seal, giving you the best protection from a blow to the face or mouth. Make sure to bring your sports guard with you periodically so your dentist can check the fit.
Using a hard toothbrush or scrubbing your teeth and gums too aggressively is likely to lead to recession. Make sure you use either a soft toothbrush or an electric toothbrush and do not apply too much pressure while brushing. Some electric toothbrushes even have a pressure indicator to show you when you’re using too much pressure.
It is vital to use a salivary substitute if you suffer from chronic dry mouth. Dry mouth is caused by a variety of factors, including medications, previous chemotherapy/radiation or underlying medical conditions. Your saliva acts as a natural cleanser for the teeth and gums, so a dry mouth can lead to tooth decay. Salivary substitutes come in several forms, such as gum, mouth rinse and lozenges.
If you are drinking a sugary or acidic drink, try to use a reusable straw. A straw allows most of the liquid to bypass your teeth, preventing the risk of tooth decay. Make sure not to drink too many sugary or acidic drinks as they are bad for your oral and overall health.
Fluoride is a vital component in preventing cavities. Fluoride strengthens the outer layer of the teeth, called the enamel, to prevent acids from penetrating through and causing cavities. Make sure to use toothpaste twice a day containing fluoride, and if you are particularly cavity-prone, you can incorporate a mouth rinse containing fluoride in your daily hygiene regimen. Make sure not to eat, drink or rinse for 30 minutes after fluoride for it to work!