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It's really easy to damage your teeth.

Each year, many people suffer damage to their teeth and gums, not as a result of traumatic injury, but because of poor dental hygiene or by putting things in their mouths that do not belong there. Doug Hall, assistant professor of periodontics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, explains that most individuals know sugar is bad for their teeth, but few realize that constantly chewing on things such as paper clips, pens, or other foreign objects can cause oral health problems. He cites four ways people can harm the health of their mouth:

* Oral habits can play a big part in causing damage to teeth and gums. People who chew on things usually place the items at the same place in the mouth each time. This can cause wear not only on the teeth, but also to the gum line, which eventually will pull away from the tooth."

* "Things which cause erosion, such as citrus drinks, for example, are very bad for the teeth. Anything which is acidic may alter tooth surfaces. People who drink a lot of citrus juices may think they are being healthy, but they also may be causing unseen damage to their teeth, and even their gums."

* "People who take certain medications are in danger of damaging their teeth. Many medicines cause dry mouth by reducing the amount of saliva, which acts as a natural flushing process. Proper saliva flow and saliva composition are important to help maintain gum and tooth integrity."

* "When [individuals] can't get to a brush and toothpaste, they should rinse their mouth vigorously after a meal, particularly when they eat out. They should use water and really swish to help remove any material from between the teeth. Also, people should use a circular motion when they do brush their teeth, and a soft bristle brush is preferred. Using a hard bristle brush or improper motion actually can drive some of the gum away, and in time may affect the tooth structure itself."
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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