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So, you have had another good checkup and think you are in the clear? Or, are you always dismayed to hear the next thing your dentist says you are doing wrong? Dentists and hygienists do excellent work to save our teeth, but they cannot tell us everything they have learned in school and through their work experience. Besides, if they gave us too much information at every visit, we might not remember any of it! Yes, brushing and flossing are the essentials, but there are other common oversights that can cause irreversible, painful damage. Read on to save your teeth, your pocketbook, and a lot of pain!

Over Enthusiastic Brushing: Many people make the mistake of trying to keep their teeth clean and healthy by brushing as hard as they can all over their teeth and gums. It is crucial to pay attention to the brushing lesson your hygienist gives you. If it has been too long to remember, ask him or her for a refresher course. We are well educated about the importance of gum health, but mistaken when we believe that we should actually brush our gums. They do need to be massaged, and food can be dislodged by rubbing the bristles at the top of your teeth and by flossing. If you brush your gums, however, you can permanently recede them by literally brushing them away. You cannot grow your gums back down over your teeth, but you can stop doing further damage. When your gums recede too much, you will experience sensitivity to hot and cold that is extremely painful and sharp. What happens is that it is easier for extreme temperatures and pressures to reach your nerves, because you have less gum tissue to protect you. The good news is that sensitive toothpastes work wonders if you use them consistently.

Tooth Grinding: This usually involuntary habit causes much more damage than irritation to your friends and family and a sore jaw. Your dentist or your mother may have told you not to grind your teeth, but did they tell you how it could hurt you? Habitual tooth grinding can and does eventually crack the tooth that receives the most pressure. When that happens, the patient will likely lose the cracked tooth, get a crown for the tooth next to it, and a bridge to replace the lost tooth. Can you say “money and pain?!” Many people have this habit even as children and countless adults store stress in a tense jaw, grinding their teeth in their sleep. There is help! Obviously, reducing and relieving stress will make you feel better immediately. If adequate stress relief is not an option right away, get to your local drugstore and buy a tooth guard. This item is manufactured to protect your teeth from each other while you sleep. It is a small investment in money and a temporary discomfort to save yourself a major dental disaster.