As humans, we are regularly developing habits throughout our lifetime, and they aren’t always good ones. Bad habits are quite common, and a lot of them are formed unintentionally. Many times we develop habits that aren’t good for us without being aware of it, but bad oral habits can cause problems, pain, and cost a lot of money to correct.
Being proactive is the best approach if you want to keep your teeth for your lifetime, so make it your mission to practice excellent oral hygiene, routine dental visits, and good oral habits. Here are eight habits to avoid if you want a healthier smile.
1. Biting Your Nails
If you are always biting your nails, your oral health will pay the price. Not only are you spreading harmful bacteria that hang out under your nails, biting non-edible items like fingernails can crack, fracture, or chip your teeth, and even hurt your jaw over time.
Instead: Apply some bitter-tasting nail polishes and work on lowering your stress levels. Awareness and calming your anxiety can keep your nails (and teeth) looking their best!
2. Brushing Harshly
Scouring your chompers with harsh strokes can leave them hurting instead of clean and healthy. Rough handling and/or using a brush with hard bristles, can wear down tooth enamel and irritate the gums. This can end up receding the gums and exposing the layer of dentin below which can become very sensitive and painful.
Instead: Brush at least twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush and massage the teeth and gums gently. It will clean the teeth surfaces without damaging them in the process.
3. Clenching and Grinding
If you are constantly clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth (awake or asleep), it can damage your teeth and jaw. This habit is called bruxism, and it often arises from unrelieved stress. It wears down enamel leaving teeth sensitive and makes them vulnerable to decay. You may also find yourself with painful jaw joint pain, or even fractured or chipped teeth.
Instead: Practice relaxation techniques to relieve jaw stress and wear a custom night guard, made by your dentist, while you sleep.
4. Chronic Snacking
Whether you continually snack or sip sweetened beverages throughout the day, both can hurt your teeth. It’s not just bathing your teeth in sugary pools that can lead to cavities. Snacking on chips and carbohydrate-filled goodies, feed your mouth’s oral bacteria, resulting in plaque buildup and tartar that can harm your teeth and gums.
Instead: Quench your thirst and protect your teeth with good, clean water. In fact, hydrating with water will also prevent dry mouth by giving your saliva the solution it needs to clear out oral debris and bacteria during the day.
5. Heavy Drinking
Regularly drinking alcohol increases plaque levels in your mouth that ultimately leads to tooth loss. Since alcohol acts as a diuretic, it can reduce saliva flow (which can result in dry mouth).
Instead: Limit your alcohol intake and drink plenty of water in between to hydrate.
6. Ice Chewing
Chomping on ice cubes might feel good on a hot day, but your teeth are not designed for it (especially when it is habitual and leads to cracks and chips). Both your teeth and ice are crystals, so the effect of rubbing them together can cause tooth damage, even potentially damaging dental fillings.
Instead: Consume your beverages through a straw to keep you from accidentally munching on ice. Be sure not to chew on the straw! Also, try chilling your drinks in the refrigerator beforehand.
7. Kick the Tobacco Habit
A tobacco habit not only stains your teeth but inflames your salivary glands so they can’t perform correctly. As if that wasn’t bad enough, smoking leads to bad breath, gum disease, increased loss of jaw bone density, and oral cancer.
Instead: Find a smoking cessation support program that works for you. Your lungs, teeth and gums will thank you!
8. Teeth Are For Chewing
Your teeth are not tools! Do not use them to tear off tags, open a bag of chips or hold your pen.
Instead: Stick to biting and chewing your food with your teeth, and use the correct tools to handle everything else.
When it comes to your habits, we encourage you to take extra care of your smile so it will take good care of you! You will reap the benefits of healthier teeth, longer-lasting dental work and a more beautiful smile!