Brushing, flossing, and rinsing are the ABCs of oral health, but they're only the beginning. A marvelous mouth takes more than squeezing paste out of a tube -- think improving your tooth brushing technique, ditching the daily soda habit, and saying good-bye to cigarettes.
Fizzy is fun but also part of the reason soda is so bad for your teeth. Two ingredients -- phosphoric acid and citric acid -- give soda its "bite" but also eat away at the surface of your teeth. Although the occasional soda won't hurt, a can or more a day makes your tooth enamel softer and more susceptible to cavities. Switch to water instead, adding flavor with sliced citrus or crushed berries or mint leaves.
Sugar is a major culprit in tooth decay. It fuels bacteria and acidity in your mouth, causing plaque to form and eat away at your enamel and gums. Your pearly whites are hit with up to 20 minutes of acid production for every sugar fest you indulge in, from sweetened coffee in the morning to ice cream at night. To avoid being among the 20% of people in the United States who face tooth decay every time they look in the mirror, try to cut down on sugary treats, and aim to brush and floss after every meal or snack.
You've heard it before: Quit smoking. But this time, it's your dentist talking. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes not only turn your teeth an unsightly shade of yellow, they eat away at your gums. Smoking creates a ripe environment for bacteria and plaque on your teeth and along the gum line. That harms tissue, degrades the bone that supports teeth, and, eventually, increases your risk of tooth loss. Even worse, tobacco chemicals can lead to oral cancer.