Are you harming your teeth without even knowing it? Everyone knows how important it is to take care of your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing, but many don’t know that some daily habits can damage your teeth. While some of these habits can cause immediate damage, others may affect your oral health over time. Here are 8 harmful habits that you may need to put to rest for the sake of your teeth.
This nervous habit not only ruins your nails but can also chip and increase tooth sensitivity. It can also impact your jaw as you place your jaw in a protruding position and use pressure to bite down onto your nails. Over time, nail-biting can lead to chipped or cracked teeth, tooth sensitivity, and jaw dysfunction.
Pick a nail color that you love so you won’t be tempted, keep your nails trimmed short, or coat them in something bitter to prevent mindless biting. If stress is causing your nail-biting, consider other solutions to stress relief.
2. Brushing Too Hard
Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes is one of the best habits you can have for your oral health. However, brushing harder and faster doesn’t mean you are brushing better. Brushing with a hard-bristled brush can irritate your gums and damage your teeth.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with the ADA seal of approval and think of massaging your teeth when you brush, not scrubbing them clean.
3. Grinding and Clenching
Many people grind or clench their teeth, especially while sleeping. Tooth grinding, also called Bruxism, can result in wearing down your teeth, cracking or chipping teeth, muscle tenderness, joint dysfunction, and chronic pain. Damage from grinding may also require additional replacements to crowns or other dental implants.
Grinding is often caused by stress. At night it can be difficult to control, so patients should consider wearing a nightguard to limit the damage. During the day, practice relaxation exercises by stretching your jaw and making an effort to keep your feet apart.
4. Chewing on Ice and Pencils
Chewing on ice is a common habit that is very dangerous for your teeth. Tooth enamel is crystal and ice cubes are another form of crystal. When you push crystals against each other, one will break. Thankfully it is most often the ice that breaks, but sometimes a tooth or filling will break instead.
Instead, use a straw so you won’t be tempted or consider chewing on a piece of sugarless gum if you get the urge.
Biting down on pencils or pens while you concentrate is also a bad habit that may cause your teeth to crack and chip. They may also irritate the inside of your teeth.
5. Using Your Teeth as Tools
It might seem convenient to open a package with your teeth or to use them as an extra hand, but your teeth were made for eating. When you use your teeth as a stand-in for a pair of scissors or to hold something while you open a door, you put yourself at a greater risk of damaging your teeth. Common injuries include cracked teeth, cuts on the lips and tongue, injured jaw, or accidentally swallowing something you shouldn’t have.
Instead, keep yourself safe and ask for help, grab a pair of scissors, or decide to make multiple trips if you don’t have room in your hands for all your items. Always practice safety first, even for your teeth.
6. Playing without a mouthguard
A hit to the mouth during a big game can cause your teeth to loosen, chip, crack, or you may even lose a tooth. Not to mention, you may bite down on your tongue, lip, or cheek. Many people play recreational sports without using a mouthguard, even though nearly all professional athletes wear them. Protect your oral health and purchase a self-fitting mouthguard that conforms to your bite or talk with your dentist about a custom-made mouthguard so that you can protect your smile while you play sports.
7. Loving Lemons
Remember when you were young and you would take a cut orange and smile with it in your mouth? You were probably told by a teacher or parent to take it out of your mouth because you’d damage your teeth. They were right! Lemons, oranges, and other highly acidic foods can damage your tooth’s enamel. These acidic substances can cause erosion and tooth sensitivity. This may lead to tooth discoloration as well and make a rough texture on the surface of your teeth afterward.
Avoid eating highly acidic foods in large quantities. Remember to rinse out your mouth with water after eating acidic foods. Brush your teeth after waiting 30 minutes or so, as brushing immediately afterward may result in increased sensitivity and lead to more damage.
8. Forgetting to Floss
We know that brushing and flossing are important and that more often than not, flossing can fall to the side during a busy week. Forgetting to floss can cause serious damage to your oral health. Regular flossing helps to reduce plaque buildup from between your teeth and under your gums.
Commit to brushing and flossing. Do them together in the morning and night so that you don’t forget one or the other. Establish a routine and stick to it.
We understand it is hard to break bad habits, but amending your ways will significantly improve your dental health. If you recognize one or two of these habits as your own, contact our office so that we can work with you to break these bad habits.
For more information on habits that are harmful to your teeth, please contact Leslie B. Anthony, DMD today.