We all have bad habits. Some of them are just annoying, others can affect our relationships, and others affect our health. But besides the obvious effects of some bad habits, like junk food on weight, our quirks can damage our teeth and oral health. We understand that it may be difficult to break some habits, especially if they’re years in the making, but we thought it was important to inform you of any negative health effects they may be causing. Learn from this article if you have any of these habits and decide for yourself if it is worth it to try and quit.
This is a common habit among many people, but nail biting is one of the worst habits you can do for your teeth. Nail biting is a nervous habit related to stress and is often subconscious for many biters. Nail biting can chip away at your teeth and even impact your jaw. The forward position your jaw is in when you’re biting your nails places pressure on it and is often associated with jaw dysfunction. If you bite your nails, you can try using bitter-tasting nail polish which puts an unpleasant taste in your mouth every time you go to bite your nails. Additionally, you may want to look into stress management tools like trying meditation to cope with anxiety and stress.
Brushing Too Hard
We recommend that all of our patients brush their teeth twice a day. And while this is a good habit to get into, brushing too hard can do more harm than good. Using a toothbrush with hard, stiff bristles or using too much pressure when brushing can wear away enamel, damage teeth, and irritate the gums. When your gums are irritated every time you brush, they are in a constant state of inflammation which can lead to gum disease down the road. Look for a soft toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance indicating proper pressure. When brushing your teeth, think of massaging them, not scrubbing them.
Grinding and Clenching Your Teeth
Grinding your teeth can damage your teeth by causing chipping and cracking. Although, many people don’t realize when they’re grinding and most often do so at night while they’re sleeping. When you grind your teeth and clench your jaw, you may experience tenderness in your jaw muscles and joint pain. You may also increase your occurrences of migraines, and may not be able to open your jaw all the way or chew without pain. These effects of grinding and clenching can really affect your life when it is too painful to eat certain foods and you’re in a constant state of discomfort. Try practicing relaxation exercises and get a nighttime mouth guard fitted to prevent grinding and clenching at night.
Chewing on Ice Cubes
Imagine for a moment what might happen if you were to press two glasses against each other. One would eventually crack and break. The same can happen to your teeth when you chew on ice cubes. Ice cubes are crystallized water and the enamel on your teeth is crystal. When you chew ice cubes, one of them will crack and break. Most of the time it’s the ice cubes, but eventually, it may be your tooth or a filling. If you love cold beverages, drink them without ice by chilling them in the fridge. Or, sip beverages that have ice in them with a straw so you might not be as tempted to chew on the ice cubes. Just think of the consequences of chewing on ice, and you may decide that having a cracked tooth isn’t worth it!
Grazing is a word used to describe constant snacking throughout the day. Your teeth can use the break between meals to not be used to crush and break up food. Snack foods tend to be not the healthiest types, and eating sugary food and drinks every day will increase your risk of cavities. Besides the cavity-causing sugar, constant eating can cause cavity-causing bad bacteria to feed on leftover food, which will elevate the levels of acid in your mouth that can wear away at the outer layer of your teeth. Avoid the temptation to buy sugary foods at the store, and eat more balanced, satisfying meals to feel fuller longer. When you do enjoy a sugary snack, wash it down with a big glass of water to clean away any leftover food particles.
Turning Teeth into Tools
We all do it; ripping tape, holding objects, and even opening things with our teeth. But that’s not what our teeth are made for. They are designed for chewing our food, and using them in these damaging ways can crack our teeth, stress our jaws, and increase the risk of swallowing an item we may choke on. The next time you’re tempted to use your teeth as a tool, stop and think about your oral health, and find something more appropriate to help you.
In addition to trying to break these bad habits, work on developing the good habit of regular cleanings and checkups with your dentist. The staff at Infinite Dental Wellness is more than happy to help you improve your oral health and keep your teeth strong and shining.