03/12/2014 08:16 am ET Updated May 12, 2014

3 Healthy Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Teeth

By Lorraine Hindy, DMD for

As a dentist, I applaud my patients with healthy lifestyles, but a lot of them are surprised to learn that some of their healthy habits could be creating long-term damage to their teeth and gums.

Brushing right after a meal:
Although the American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice daily, it isn't a good idea to brush immediately after you eat. Experts say that brushing too soon after you eat or drink might do more harm than good, especially when it comes to foods that are acidic such as tomato sauce or red wine or hard crunchy foods like nuts, which can scratch the enamel.

Since acid erodes the enamel, brushing while the acid is still in the mouth can push the acid deeper into the enamel causing even more damage. You have the right idea if you are brushing after meals and snacks, just be sure to wait 30 to 60 minutes to avoid the negative effects.

Gulping fruit smoothies:
If you're a regular smoothie drinker, you're essentially coating your teeth in liquid sugar that breaks down in fruits. We're not saying you need to kick your homemade smoothie habit, but sugar that hangs around on teeth forms sticky, hard to remove plaque very quickly, so be sure to clean your teeth afterwards. Also, to swish away some of the sugar, get in the habit of chasing your smoothie with some water. Even better, consider sipping your smoothie through a straw. A straw allows the fruit acid to bypass the teeth, resulting in little or no buildup on your pearly whites.

Unwinding with wine:
A daily glass of wine has been linked to cardiovascular heart health benefits and slower aging. Unfortunately, that glass of wine isn't doing much for your teeth. While it's common knowledge that red wine has pigments that can stain the teeth, what many people don't realize is that both red and white wine can stain your teeth.

How's that? Both red and white wine contain acid, which eats away at tooth enamel. This makes teeth vulnerable to decay as well as staining from other foods like coffee. If you do drink, swish with water afterwards to help lessen the effects.

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