Acids, Laundry Bleach, Abrasives, Hard Foods And Your Own Dental Tools Are The 5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth.

image of health teeth-5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth

Healthy teeth…a gift for a lifetime

Your teeth are a gift, an amazing gift. A gift that I’ve seen last a lifetime, up to 100 plus years.

When you were a precious little baby you were born without teeth. You couldn’t eat regular food if you tried. Fortunately there was a solution prepared for you…breast feeding.

You nursed for months to years until you transitioned to a formula substitute for breast milk. Why? There are lots of reasons but let’s look at one, teeth.

You and Mom were busy. You were getting all of the benefits of breast feeding, a full stomach, bonding time with Mom, a nice place to nap and lots of good nutrition and other healthy stuff.

How long did the nursing thing last? It depended on the culture in which you were born. But when your teeth started to come in and you tried biting a few times while nursing, your welcome was likely beginning to wear out. Time for a change.

Eventually, you transitioned to solid food and began a lifetime of eating, laughing, smiling and all the other things we use our teeth for.

I want you to keep your teeth, an amazing gift, for a lifetime so I’ve put together a list of some of the worst tooth destroyers.

Let’s explore them a little together and their long term implications.

Acids Are The Worst For Your Teeth

Acids have an amazing variety of uses, but first, lets look at common acids that can destroy your teeth. We put diluted acetic acid on salads-vinegar, we put diluted phosphoric acid in some sodas. And another very concentrated acid is used to cleans bricks and help us digest food.

Have you ever watched brick layers putting the finishing touches on the outside of a house? If so, you may have noticed a very strong acid in use.

After bricks and mortar are placed and the mortar is completely set, an acid wash is often used to clean up the excess cement from the mortar discoloring the bricks. Great for bricks, not for teeth.

image of Acid washed bricks using the same acid as stomach acid. 5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth

Acid washed bricks, using the same acid as stomach acid. brasives Courtesy: Craig Sommer DDS at

This concrete and masonry cleaning acid is hydrochloric acid. It cleans mineral deposits from brick and the minerals from your teeth causing them to dissolve.

Hydrochloric acid, is the same acid your body produces to digest what you eat. Your stomach walls are protected fortunately by special secretions. These stomach produced coatings are designed to keep your stomach lining from being digested along with the food you eat.

Bulimia Nervosa

If stomach acid is repeatedly regurgitated by deliberate vomiting, teeth will melt away. The condition known as bulimia nervosa, an attempt to control or lose weight by vomiting right after eating, is devastating to teeth. The repeated eating and purging destroys primarily the upper teeth, starting back to front by gradually dissolving the tongue side enamel, the softer dentin and eventually reaching the nerve inside your tooth.

If the bulimia is addressed and stopped early enough, there may be enough tooth structure left to recreate a naturally appearing smile.

Image of Strong lemon-water is bad for your teeth-5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth

Strong lemon-water is bad for your teeth.  A 1/8 of a lemon slice maximum per 12 oz. glass of water.

Acids such as lemon juice or lime juice in water are healthful in one respect, but are certainly damaging in another. Citrus fruits eaten frequently also create the same destruction of healthy teeth but in slow motion. If you are a lemon or lime water advocate, only use juice from one-eighth of a lemon or lime in a glass of water, not one half a lemon or more

Even consuming “good-for-you” vitamin C in a chewable form will destroy enamel and dentin.

Image of Dental_erosion-5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth

Acid erosion from eating lemons, limes and citrus fruit.

If you find you must consume large amounts of citrus fruit and or juices, consider rinsing afterward with baking soda dissolved in water to neutralize the acids.

Once any acid has contacted your teeth it begins to etch the outer surface and gives them a chalky feel when you rub your teeth together. You’ll notice it after drinking all or even part of a soda. In this weakened state the enamel rubs off easily with chewing or tooth brushing.

Acid produced by bacteria accomplishes the same softening of the enamel under the thick white coating of plaque.

Remember your beautiful teeth, the amazing gift, designed to last for a lifetime? Protect them.

That’s number 1 of the 5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth.

Can I Use Laundry Bleach On My Teeth?

I am answering this question because there are more than half a million searches for it on Google.

It seems there is always a new way to take care of teeth appearance problems, but resorting to everyday household products is not always the best choice for your health. Laundry bleach is one of these certain whitening products best not used on your teeth.

image of Laundry Bleach Image-5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth

Laundry Bleach, One of the 5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth


No! Never, Ever, EVER, Use Laundry Bleach On Your Teeth. It Is An Absolute No-No!

Laundry bleach or Clorox® Regular-Bleach to use a brand name, is a mixture of difference chemicals designed to remove stains from clothing during regular washing-not teeth. The manufacturer recommends using ½ cup of Clorox® Regular-Bleach to a standard-size washer after it’s filled with water and has been running for two minutes to dilute the bleach.

It needs to be diluted considerably or you risk having your undies disintegrate as you put them on.

Chlorox regular concentrate needs to be added to white clothes only to avoid damaging colored ones. Make the mistake once and you’ll remember it forever. If you are sloppy using chlorine bleach you will see the error of your ways quite visibly.

Even diluted Chlorox, used to disinfect surfaces will stain clothing.

Yes, diluted, Clorox® Regular-Bleach can be used to purify water in emergency situations, like natural or man-made disasters. It’s 6 drops to a gallon of clear water, then let it stand for 30 minutes to kill critters (bacteria, parasites etc.). If it still smells slightly of bleach odor you are good to go. If not, repeat the 6 drops to a gallon and wait and sniff again. This is where boiling for 10-15 minutes is not feasible. Does it work? Yes. Taste terrific? No.

Chlorine bleach solution is a very strong chemical. Hypochlorous acid, formed in a bleach solution, generates superoxide radicals. They are what cause the bleaching (desirable in most cases), oxidative injury and cell death (not so desirable in other cases). It is designed to clean and disinfect, to kill bacteria and fungi.

Get it on your hands and it feels slippery as skin cells are dissolving. Rinse it off throughly and don’t wipe your hands on your pants.

Never use it full strength on your teeth as it will dissolve the protein in your teeth, roots and gums to say nothing of lips, cheeks and other facial parts.

If full strength chlorine bleach is used for crime scene cleanup, its not good used on your teeth.

Still thinking about using a Chlorox bleach pen on your own teeth?  Actually, don’t even consider it. Keep the gift of beautiful teeth in mind.

That’s number 2 of the 5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth.

Abrasives And Tooth Brushes

Abrasives can be incredibly destructive to teeth. Yes, in the hands of a trained professional abrasives are regularly used to remove decay, reshape teeth and provide access to infection within a tooth. The professional’s goal is always to minimize tooth damage during the process of treating teeth in need of repair.

But, if you are a determined do-it-yourselfer, I have to admit you are not alone. Others like you are in the dental patient family of countless dentists. Do you ever try fixing a problem on your own, using an emory board or a nail file to round an edge that seems sharp after a tooth “chips?”

My encouragement to you is: don’t try this at home, especially in the garage with a Dremel tool. I’ve seen the results of these efforts.

Can you get away with an electric nail buff or polisher? Please. Don’t do it. Even if dental sandpaper and diamond coated metal strips can be purchased online with no qualifications, don’t be a DIY’er with your teeth.

Internet articles can be useful, but can also go too far to the edges of reason with some suggestions. Several suggest if a little bit of grit can help remove stains from your teeth, how about using natural diatomaceous earth? Nope. Too coarse, it is made of silica an natural abrasive.

image of microscopic Diatoms-Laundry Bleach Image-5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth

Diatoms, algae with a silica shell. Accumulations of diatom skeletons form deposits of diatomaceous earth.

It’s also used to kill insects by sprinkling it on them or where they walk. As they walk through this fine powder, their external skeleton grinds away and their insides spill out, causing their demise. It is a silica abrasive.

A Toothbrush Used With A Heavy Hand Can Abrade Teeth And Gums

Even your toothbrush, all by itself can be too abrasive, if used with a heavy hand. Electric brushes vary considerably in their abrasive potential, but often the destructive effects noted are related to brushing pressure. It can be frustrating when you are trying to strike a balance between effective plaque removal and avoiding cutting up gums, roots or tooth enamel.

Image of electric toothbrush-Laundry Bleach Image- if used with too frim a hand is one of the 5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth

Electric tooth brushes can be abrasive on gums if used with too frim a hand.
Courtesy of–


Look for a toothpaste with a low abrasive index. Baking soda, as an additive, is not bad at all compared to many, if used with a soft to extra-soft brush.

That’s number 3 of the 5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth.

Hard Foods

Hard foods, you know the ones I am talking about. The foods that make you think, “Should I really be biting down on this?” If you have to ask that question then it’s not a good choice. Certain foods are best avoided in your diet.

Early in my dental career I had a wonderful patient that worked for a candy distributing company. Around the beginning of October he would bring in gobs of snack just the right size for the trick-or-treaters coming by on the last night of the month. I soon discovered the fun give-away from the dental office quickly became an item of ridicule. “A little self serving Doc, don’t you think?” Yeah, I guess.

image of rock candy-5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth

Rock candy

It is easy to accept a candy called a jaw breaker might not be good for teeth. But how about a snack called CornNuts? In fact, I had more adults with broken back teeth from CornNuts than anything else after rummaging around in their kids Halloween candy collection.

CornNuts. Low sugar, check, a vegetable, check, hard as a rock, check. Good for business, yes but the give-away stopped real soon as I did not want to be responsible for broken teeth.

image of Corn nuts-5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth

Corn Nuts

How about peanut brittle? Maybe it should be renamed tooth brittle. If you have a brittle tooth it will help you discover an existing fracture or create a brand new one for you in mere seconds.

Lollipops or other hard candies are delicious but keep dentists very busy with either cavity repair or more extensive treatment if chewing them is your habit.

Frozen Yogurt Topping Can Break A Tooth Or Two

My personal broken tooth experience was with frozen yogurt. The yogurt was fine, it was the burnt peanut candy topping that was my downfall. I discovered that part of what I was munching was too hard and not yielding to normal chewing. It turned out I had two pieces of broken tooth, each from two separate teeth with large fillings. It was all sunshine and rainbows with that one small frozen yogurt with topping.

French Bread Breaks Teeth

Another surprising food item, that could cause a problems for you is French bread, a little past it’s prime. Baguette or roll, the crust is often to blame for countless broken front teeth, especially if weakened with previous decay. Regardless of the type of dental restorations used to restore the previously decayed tooth. Whether a large tooth colored filling or a dental crown teeth with large previous decay are not invincible.

Better to bite off to the side with particularly tough bread and avoid weaker teeth.

Popcorn is the last of the sugar free snacks I’ll mention. Yummy, with butter and salt, handful after handful while taking in a good movie. Until, that is, you encounter the dreaded “old maid”, the un-popped kernel that never fails to surprise. Chewing along on the crunchy soft goodness, totally unaware of the stealth “old maid” just waiting to cause damage. It’s not fair.

They are so hard to resist that Trader Joes’s is selling Partially Popped Popcorn-with butter and Sea Salt. Popcorn’s appeal is renown, so think about what could happen when you indulge.

Moral of the story: If it’s really hard to chew, it could cause major damage. Save those teeth of yours.

That’s number 4 of the 5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth.

Can I Clean My Own Teeth With Dental Tools On Amazon?

Launching into another DIY project is the over achiever turned dental hygienist/dentist. It’s possible to remove some of the buildup of plaque and tartar on your own teeth with DIY kits on amazon. Have you thought about it?

I see kits ranging in price from $7.00 to $25.00 with the more extensive ones containing more tools. One with a free black leather carrying case had: an anti-fog mirror, dental scaler, tartar scraper, dental pick, and dental tweezers. Another come with a zippered leather pouch for traveling.

image of dental tools-5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth

Dental tools for home use.

Not bad as far as the range of items goes. Could you actually improve your own dental hygiene with a kit like this? Sure. But not even close to what a competent dental hygienist could do for you.

Why? Hygienists know where you are likely to have soft plaque deposits and the hard crusty calculus deposits. Because they have better access, vision enhancement, lighting and extensive training. They can detect cavities, oral cancer and a myriad of other conditions. This is all done without saliva drool running down your arm, leaning over a bathroom sink with poor lighting.

Let’s agree on a definition for great dental hygiene. Let’s define it as no plaque or calculus on any surfaces of the teeth including the deepest crevice in the gums around each tooth. The “why” of this is addressed in another article.

That’s five sides to simplify it. The biting surface (1), the cheek or lip side (2), the tongue side (3), the side closest to the middle-front of the mouth (4) and the side furthest from the middle-front of the mouth (5).

Plaque is the soft mushy acidic biology experiment clinging to your teeth. It consists of food, bacteria and acidic bacterial poop. It is the easiest to remove. Proper use of your tooth-brush and dental floss will move you a great distance toward the elusive goal of perfect dental hygiene.

But with even the best of efforts, we seldom see teeth free of plaque in my office. Wherever a little bit of plaque is left behind, calculus forms from minerals in your saliva soaking into it. It creates a rough hard deposit coated with bacteria and food again allowing the existing calculus layer to gradually thicken.

Is it possible to remove some of the hard calculus deposit? Yes, of course it is. But if you couldn’t successfully remove ALL of the plaque, the easy one to remove, do you really think you could remove all of the calculus with your Amazon kit? If you twist or press too firmly you risk chipping your teeth, or gouging your gums. Certain instruments or tools are best left to your dentist or hygienist.

As dental hygienists and dentists we will often spend $25.00 plus dollars on one instrument. It’s designed to reach just a couple of special locations between back teeth so we can do a great job. It has special angles designed into it’s shape for effective use by a second person, not you.

I truly wish you the best with any of your dental hygiene efforts. I wouldn’t start out thinking you could not make a difference. But just how good a job are you really doing? Having a tool box does not make you a good mechanic.

Try the fresh breath kiss test. It will help you evaluate your efforts. Just a suggestion though, don’t brag about the fact that you never see a dentist and you scale your own teeth with your Amazon instruments on your first date.

Get a professional evaluation and have an expert do this plaque and calculus removal for you. And protect the gift of beautiful teeth, it could literally save your life.

That’s number 5 of the 5 Worst Things To Use On Your Teeth.

See your holistic dentist to help you make good decisions as you take excellent care of your teeth.