The enamel on your teeth is the hardest part of your body, but even they can get worn down from years of misuse, neglect and abuse. Here are 12 ways to wreck your teeth that you want to avoid.

1. Brushing Right After Every Meal
Ideally, you should brush three times per day: after breakfast, after lunch and after dinner. But, if you brush too soon after eating, you can scrub away some of the enamel that has been softened by the acid your mouth produces when you eat.
Wait half an hour to an hour after eating before you brush your teeth. This will give the acid time to neutralize and your teeth can remineralize. Also, brushing too hard with a hard bristled brush can also damage your enamel.

2. Forgetting to Floss
Flossing your teeth cleans between the teeth and under the gum line. If your gums tend to bleed, it is a sign of gingivitis and means your gums need to be taken better care of. Brushing and flossing should take place after every meal. The longer food stays lodged in contact with the gums the more problems it can create.

3. Skipping Checkups
It is recommended to go to the dentist every six months, but many patients do not. Not going often enough allows plaque to form into tartar which is much harder to get off and also attracts more plaque. Tartar also carries the plaque into the gums, causing the structure of the teeth to weaken.

4. Using Your Teeth Like Tools
Using your teeth to break up hard candy, open bags and pop of bottle tops can cause your teeth to break or crack. Instead of using your teeth to help you do things, opt for a scissors or bottle opener and save your teeth the extra wear and tear.

5. Ditching the Mouth guard
Mouth guards are recommended for most athletes. In any sport where there is a heightened change of contact with something hard or another player, a mouth piece should be worn. Sports like basketball, football, baseball, wrestling, lacrosse and martial arts call pose the risk of getting hit in the mouth by another player or a ball.

6. Grinding Your Teeth
Some people unknowingly grind their teeth when they are board, stressed or even sleeping. This action can wear down the teeth which can lead to decay. In addition, it also causes pressure and fractures on the enamel.

7. Drinking Soda, Fruit Juices and Sports Drinks
Sports drinks and sodas contain a lot of sugar that can eat away at your teeth. Even diet sodas that contain no sugar have acid in them that eats at the enamel of your teeth. Opt for a healthy drink like water instead.

8. Drinking Coffee, Tea or Red Wine
These types of drinks stain the teeth. Once teeth are stained, they become like sandpaper and all the little holes attract bacteria which can lead to decay. Cut back on these types of beverages to save your teeth. If cutting back is not an option, use a straw to deliver the drink past your teeth to your throat.

9. Whitening Teeth Too Often
Whitening your teeth can cause tooth sensitivity. Doing it too often can make your teeth more prone to irritation, disease and worn enamel. If you are going to whiten, make sure you check with your dentist prior to doing so and follow the directions.

10. Drinking Bottled Water
Bottled water tends to have very little to no fluoride in it. It is best to stick with drinking tap water that contains some fluoride in it as this is an effective way to prevent getting cavities.

11. Being Bulimic.
The constant binging and purging characteristic of bulimia can cause serious damage to teeth. The stomach acid that comes up with the food eats away at the enamel.

12. Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking stains your teeth making it more susceptible to bacteria. It is also a cause of gum and bone disease. Quitting smoking can greatly increase your chances of having a healthy mouth.

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