Recognizing Bad Habits that can Damage your Teeth

Did you know that there are many things you may be doing unnoticed in your every day routine that may be damaging your teeth? Recognizing these habits at a young age before a child’s adult teeth are in is detrimental to ensure they won’t linger these bad habits into adulthood and damage their permanent teeth. Today, you will read about some of the most common habits for damaging your teeth and solutions to help break the routines.

Children who suck their thumbs past the age of 5 or 6 when their permanent teeth start coming in pose a risk of permanent changes to the jaw and tooth structure to their adult teeth. Thumb sucking and pacifiers specifically can cause misalignment of the teeth. Misalignment to the permanent teeth may result in a number of issues later in life, including; difficulty chewing and breaking problems. To prevent these permanent changes to a child’s adult teeth, try to identify the triggers and use gentle and positive reinforcement.

When your dentist tells you that you need to start brushing your teeth better, they aren’t telling you that you need to start brushing harder like most people think. They are actually telling you that you need to brush each and every tooth, including your molars, at all angels and to be sure that no tooth is left un-brushed and sparkling clean. Brushing your teeth too vigorously will do more harm than good. Brushing your teeth too hard can actually damage and irritate your gums while wearing down enamel making your teeth sensitive to cold and possibly even create cavities. To ensure you aren’t damaging your teeth while brushing, use a soft bristled tooth brush with the letters ‘ADA’ on the box. This means that the bristles are firm enough to remove the plaque on your teeth but soft enough to not cause any damage to your teeth and gums.

For many individuals, stress can induce teeth and jaw clenching and even grinding. The risk of clenching and grinding your teeth can result in cracked or chipped teeth and even joint and muscle pain in your jaw. There are other individuals who clench and grind their teeth in their sleep without even noticing that they do it and don’t see immediate damage. Clenching and grinding your teeth poses the risk of cracked teeth or micro-fractures in your teeth which can result later in cavities or more severely broken teeth. Ask your local general dentist about investing in a night guard to prevent this. Night/bite guards are made by taking impressions of an individual’s teeth and will prevent the patient’s ability to touch their teeth together to clench or grind their teeth.

While your teeth may be amazing tools and be very efficient at slicing and chewing up your food, they are not good tools for tearing open packages or wrappers. Using your teeth to open products may sound convenient at the time, but can seriously damage your enamel and root of your teeth in the long run. Using your teeth as tools can result in cracked teeth or painful jaw injuries. Take the extra time to find a safe and alternative way to open up a package and not risk cracking/chipping your teeth or injuring your jaw.

While ice is just frozen water, it’s actually way more damaging than you would even begin to think. Tooth enamel is the hardest and most highly-mineralized substance in your entire body, with this being said, they are still susceptible to damage. Crewing on ice or pens/pencils can damage your enamel, crack or tooth or even break/crack a filling. Not only can chewing on ice cause cracks within your teeth, it can also cause serious damage to fillings and crowns and individuals who wears braces. Chewing on pens and pencils usually stems from the childhood and most individuals don’t even realize they are doing it. Chewing on pens and pencils can cause cracked and chipped teeth which can result in cavities and even possible tooth loss later in life is the damage is severe enough. Keeping a pack of sugar-free gum may help break this tooth-damaging bad habit and will increase saliva production which can remove cavity causing bacteria.

Woman with Overbite and Braces

The most common bad habit for damaging your teeth is nail biting. Everyone has done it as some point, but what most people don’t realize is that is a habit that most likely stemmed from childhood and is the result of dry hands and cuticles. Nail biting can most commonly chip your teeth, but can also cause jaw dysfunction if you protrude your jaw for extended periods of time while chewing and biting your finger nails. Nail biting can cause teeth to break and tooth enamel to splinter which can result in loss in the future. Placing bitter-tasting nail polish on your nails can reduce the amount of times you are sticking your fingers in your mouth. Try placing cuticle oil or cream on your nails and cuticles multiple times a day. While stress can be a huge indication of nail biting, ultimately it is most likely that the hands are dry and itchy which is the subconscious reason individual bite their nails.

Every bad habit can be broken with the right amount of dedication and self perseverance. If you suffer some of these bad habits that may be damaging your teeth, try working on a solution and different alternative to save your teeth from damage in the long run.

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