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Be kind to your teeth- what causes damage?

Sometimes it can be difficult maintaining balance in all aspects of our lives. This is even true of our mouths and sometimes unconscious habits can cause us damage.

The most common issues which damage our oral health include; 

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Erosion
  • Trauma
  • Grinding

tooth decay

Tooth decay is the most common dental disease out there. It is a multifactorial condition, which can sometimes be difficult to maintain the ideal balance. Dental decay is actually caused by the bacteria Streptococcus mutans. This bacteria breakdown enamel and teeth structure through their interaction with food and drinks you consume. Foods high in acid and sugar make the environment in your mouth perfect for their acid to attack and breakdown your teeth.

gum disease

A lot of people take their gums for granted and unfortunately don’t feel the effects of gum disease until it’s too late. Gum disease slowly deteriorates the supportive structure around the tooth, including the bone.  If at any time your gums bleed- this is a sign that the gum is inflamed and require further care. That’s why we stress the importance of good oral hygiene- including flossing or in-between cleaners to avoid gum disease developing or progressing. Something we cannot stress enough is if your gums bleed when you floss- you needs to increase your flossing habits.

Flossing does not damage your gums!


Erosion is a condition which affects the enamel of the tooth and eventually the inner surface. Erosion happens through the presence of acid in the mouth/ saliva. The two main causes are dietary intake through the food and drinks we consume or through bile entering the mouth from reflux or vomiting. We tend to find that wine, most alcohol, fruit juice and citrus fruits are the biggest contributors to dental erosion. Essentially anything with a low pH would be considered acidic and a risk to your tooth structure.


Trauma can be an accident to your mouth but may also be a habit that over time will damage your tooth. While accidents are unavoidable, a habit which could damage your tooth needs to be managed. Bad habits for your teeth include; nail biting, pen chewing and even opening bottles/ containers with your teeth. The only thing your teeth should be used for is eating and we always discourage habits or party tricks which may result in their damage (particularly in the long term).


Grinding or clenching your teeth is often a condition that goes unnoticed and can occur both during the day but most commonly at night. Clenching and tooth grinding can lead to enamel or loss of tooth structure, recession, can cause filling and tooth fracture, muscle tenderness and sensitivity. A dentist may suggest a splint to wear nightly to avoid further tooth loss, along with stress management with a physiotherapist.


When it comes to staying kind to your teeth our number one go to is prevention! The best preventative practices include;

  • Brushing twice a day for 2 minutes- with a soft bristle toothbrush
  • Flossing daily (or the use of in-between brushes)
  • A healthy diet with minimal sugar/ acid
  • Lots of water
  • Avoid habits which will damage enamel 
  • Stay aware of your stress levels

It’s always important to take the appropriate action as recommended by your dental professional to avoid progression of any conditions and seek advice if you feel something isn’t quite right.

By Ashleigh Lilly

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