Sorry, bubble tea lovers: bad news for you.
It turns out, sipping on sweet drinks over a long period of time is way worse for your teeth than gulping it down, according to Keith Leong, a dentist from United Dental Surgery.
Dr Leong is one of the private dentists under Dental Shield, a new local start-up specialising in affordable dental health insurance.
He shared with Business Insider five common ways that Singaporeans ruin their teeth:
#1: You sip on sweet drinks way too long
- Lianhe Zaobao
Like to slowly savour your drinks? Bad news: While it might help extend your enjoyment, it’s murder on your teeth.
When it comes to teeth, the duration you spend eating and drinking matters more than the quantity, Dr Leong said. Taking a long time to finish a drink means your teeth are constantly being bathed in sugar – a sure way to damage them, he added.
Sweet drinks like bubble tea, coffee, kombucha, and lemon water (or water with other fruit slices in it) dissolve your teeth, resulting in erosion cavities and sensitive teeth, Dr Leong warned.
The dentist advised that all sweet drinks and desserts should be finished at most 30 minutes after your main meal has ended.
#2: You share saliva with someone who has terrible dental health
While kissing stimulates saliva – which can help fight cavities – it’s no use if your beau has poor dental health. The bacteria in their mouth makes its way to yours, and can result in you getting cavities.
It doesn’t have to be as extreme as kissing – even sharing a fork or toothbrush with someone means you’re transferring cavity-causing bacteria from their mouth into yours.
#3: You brush three times a day – and right after lunch
Sorry – despite your diligent efforts at hygiene, brushing your teeth right after a meal damages them, as their outermost layer gets weakened when you eat sour or acidic foods.
Instead, wait until 30 minutes have passed before brushing, and don’t brush more than twice a day, as overbrushing thins down the protective enamel layer on teeth, leading to sensitivity and abrasion cavities, Dr Leong advised.
The same goes for using charcoal, salt and other teeth scrubs – long term use wears down the enamel.
However, this isn’t an excuse to be lazy – brushing under twice a day can also lead to bacteria build-up, which spells cavities.
#4: You bite nuts, crab shells and ice
Using your teeth to crack nuts, crab shells, chew ice or tear open packets may work once or twice, but it leaves micro-cracks (called craze lines) in the teeth due to the stress, Dr Leong said. Over time, this can also cause fractures and fillings to fall out.
Worse, if you wait until you feel pain to visit the dentist, it may be too late – and treatments will be more complicated and costly compared to if the problem is detected during a regular check-up (once every six months). In serious cases, it may be too late or difficult to save your tooth.
#5: You’re lazy and don’t brush properly
Proper tooth brushing includes brushing the often-neglected gum margin, cheek, palate, and tongue, Dr Leong said.
Another common mistake is not changing a toothbrush frequently enough. Toothbrush bristles lose their springiness after one to three months, making them less effective.
Some people also rinse with mouthwash when they don’t need to. Mouthwash targets gum disease and tooth decay, Dr Leong said, and rinsing with the wrong type of mouthwash can cause stains on teeth.