3 Oral Health Habits To Avoid, From A Dental Hygienist
We've decided to hop on the trend, too, starting with one area that doesn't receive nearly as much attention in the beauty space: oral care. Here, we asked dental hygienist Rebeca Rosario, director of operations at Wally Health (a New York City–based modern dental studio), for her nonnegotiable no-go's when it comes to oral hygiene. Below, find three things Rosario would never, ever do to her own set of pearly whites:
Buy an at-home teeth scaler.
You know those metal tools dentists use to scrape the buildup off your teeth? Well, you can technically purchase those for at-home use, but Rosario suggests leaving this practice to the pros. "Dental scalers are meant for dental professionals to use who are equipped to properly remove bacteria and calcified deposits," she says.
Scalers are sharp, and when combined with inexperience, the result can be, well, not so pretty. "At-home scalers will lead to potential damage to the enamel and soft tissue," Rosario warns. So while you may think you're going the extra mile with DIY dental care, it's actually better to opt out of this step if you're not an experienced dental professional.
Pick up tongue-thrusting.
Have you ever heard of tongue-thrusting? If not, allow Rosario to explain: "Some individuals have a habit of pushing their tongue forward between the upper and lower teeth when they swallow, as opposed to pushing against their gum above the back of the upper front teeth," she says. It may be lesser known to those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of dental care, but it can lead to some pretty serious problems if it goes unaddressed.
"This habit alone can lead to headaches, snoring, sleep apnea, TMJ disorders, tooth and gum disease, and a relapse in ortho treatment," Rosario explains (like, say, another round of braces). While this may not be something you are aware of now, it's worth observing how you swallow. If you find yourself tongue-thrusting, you may want to work toward phasing out that habit if possible.
Skip an oral hygiene routine.
Perhaps this one goes without saying, but Rosario reiterates, "I never skip my oral hygiene routine: flossing, brushing, tongue scraping, and mouth rinse." Although, some experts recommend avoiding antiseptic mouthwashes since these can eliminate all of your oral bacteria (which can even lead to bad breath in the long run!). Best to opt for a non-antiseptic rinse, especially if you're planning on using it frequently.
Rosario also notes that being aware of your eating habits, especially when it comes to food textures, is important if you want to adjust your oral care routine. If you're eating sticky or sweet foods, you should be extra cognizant of flossing and brushing. And when it comes to beverages, Rosario tries to avoid acidic drinks when she can, as they can affect and wear down enamel over time. Totally fine if you're partial to a cup of lemon water in the morning, but you might want to avoid sipping on the acidic beverage all day long (you could also drink through a straw to minimize contact).
If there's one TikTok trend we're here for, it's experts sharing their knowledge with the masses. This time around, Rosario shares her top three habits to avoid, given her expertise as a dental hygienist. Remember to leave teeth scaling to the professionals, try to avoid tongue thrusting when you can, and never skip your full oral care routine—tongue scraping included.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including skin care, women’s health, mental health, sustainability, social media trends, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends and innovations, women’s health research, brain health news, and plenty more.