Grinding causes premature aging—the wearing down of the front teeth stops you from working your jaw efficiently. This causes your back teeth to wear down as well. Grinding can also injure your jawbone joint, the TMJ (temporomandibular joint).
If you’re a grinder, you’ll want early detection so that your bite can be analyzed. You can then be fitted for a night-guard mouthpiece, which will prevent you from grinding while you sleep. If left untreated, your teeth can eventually break and split from your gums. Some can be saved if the break and split isn’t severe. Severely worn teeth may have to be replaced, and can cost up to $2,000 per tooth.
As far as tooth decay, you’re more susceptible to it if your mother was unhealthy during pregnancy or you had poor health as a child.
Major food sources that cause decay include carbonated drinks, sugary gum and mints. These dissolve enamel and bathe our teeth in bacteria. Avoid sticky foods and candies (like raisins and caramel, unless you brush after eating them).
Have white spots on your teeth? This can be a sign of decalcification, enamel breakdown and too much fluoride. You can get this fluoride from drinking water. Also, children often swallow a lot of toothpaste, which can make the discoloration worse.
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