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Self-Induced Dental Problems

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The Other Dental Problems

Excluding fractured teeth from sports or accidents, and the cavities formed from eating a high-sugar diet (think soda and junk food), the other dental problems that I see come from tooth grinding, toothpicks, bristle beatings, and oral piercings. Some people grind their teeth together at night, while others do it while concentrating.  Those nearby say it sounds like “chewing rocks”. Teeth are incredibly strong but grinding them together will wear down the biting surface over time. These surface changes affect one’s ability to properly chew food and alter the normal shape of affected teeth. The only solution for excess surface wear is a dental crown, with a strong metal substrate.

Toothpicks inserted between teeth, or under the gumline, actually, re-shape the gum tissue.  Often, this makes extra space as the original tissue becomes blunted. Meat and stringy vegetables then get caught in this space. I’ve also seen instances where the tooth actually takes on the shape of the object that is repeatedly inserted, over time. For example, a round toothpick creates a half-moon shape on adjoining teeth, near the gumline.

Bristle Beatings

One is guilty of Bristle Beatings if they flatten toothbrush bristles within 4-6 weeks. This goes back to the misconception that, if little works good, a lot works better. The best cure for bristle beating is to brush with your non-dominant hand, always in an up-and-down motion on every area except the chewing surface, where you brush the surface front-to-back to front. You can also try an ultra-soft toothbrush.

Finally, the current practice of tongue and lip piercing has chipped many teeth or forced the gum tissue to recede. Infections are common since the mouth holds thousands of bacteria. Many don’t realize how the functioning of the gums, lips, and teeth interrelate when you chew or speak. That means that a moving metal object is repeatedly “punching” the nearby tissues and structures that it lives with, which isn’t healthy.