Just about everyone is well aware of what they should be doing in order to maintain a healthy mouth! We have been told since early childhood that it is vital to brush our teeth twice a day, floss daily, and use an antibacterial mouth rinse. In addition, we realize that we should never leave food particles stuck in our teeth during the course of the day and it is imperative to visit the dentist for a cleaning and checkup every six months. However, many of us are not aware of some of the bad habits that are extremely common. Even more so, we do not realize that these bad habits are affecting our dental health. Let’s take a look at the habits that can be harmful and affect our teeth as well as our oral health.

What Habits can Negatively Impact Your Oral Health?

Often times, the habits that are having a negative impact on our oral health are so common that we don’t realize that they are detrimental. Either they seem innocent enough, or we do them without even realizing it. It is important to be well aware of your behavior at all times in order to ensure the health of your teeth and mouth.

Nail Biting

Many of us bite our nails when we are nervous, anxious, or bored. We may actually think that the only thing we are harming is our fingernails, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. When we engage in this habit, we run the risk of wearing our front teeth down, or even cracking or chipping them as a result. In addition, nail biting can cause an issue known as bruxism. This unintentional grinding of the teeth results in headaches, tooth loss, and sensitivity.

man biting his nails

Biting on Pens or Pencils

Similar to nail-biting, many people tend to chew on their pens or pencils when they are in a class, in a meeting, or deep in thought as they are working. The tissue inside the teeth becomes irritated, and you risk cracking and chipping. It is best to be aware of your habit, and take the necessary steps to break it.

Brushing the Teeth too Hard

Aggressive brushing does not equal cleaner teeth! Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently clean the teeth. Brushing too hard can irritate the gums, causing them to recede, and also wear down tooth enamel.

Chewing on Ice

It is an all too common habit to mindlessly chew on a few pieces of ice after finishing a drink. When you do so, you may find yourself with a cracked or chipped tooth and gum injuries. It is best to make note of this harmful habit and resist crunching on ice from your drink.

Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding

We may clench our teeth when we are angry or stressed, or we may grind our teeth in our sleep. This can negatively affect your dental health by wearing down the teeth. It can also cause the teeth to loosen, or the gums to recede, and it can cause other issues such as pain in the jaw and severe headaches. If you clench or grind while you sleep at night, it may be a good idea to talk to your dental professional about wearing a mouth guard for protection.

Poor Nutritional Choices

As it turns out, a bad diet affects more than your waistline! Sugary foods such as candy, soda, cookies, and baked treats are a major cause of cavities. While a slice of cake now and then is acceptable, daily consumption of excessive sugar can lead to tooth decay and also tooth loss.

Smoking Cigarettes

We know all too well what smoking can do to our bodies. Lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease are all caused by smoking cigarettes. However, this habit can also lead to gum disease, mouth cancer, and yellowing of the teeth. Take the necessary steps to quit smoking to reduce your risk.

Sports Without a Mouth Guard

Contact sports are great fun, but a mouth guard is a necessity! Without it, you run the risk of cracking or chipping a tooth or even having teeth knocked out. You can purchase a mouth guard that is self-fitting, or have one custom made.

Thumb Sucking

Many infants suck their thumbs when they are tired, or need to comfort themselves. However, when the habit carries over into toddlerhood or childhood, it becomes unhealthy for oral health. It can cause an open bite in children, possibly affecting the permanent teeth. It is best to speak to a dentist or pediatrician regarding helping your child break the habit of thumb sucking, and at what age it should stop.

Tongue Piercing

Those who pierce the tongue may not be aware of the effects it can have on the health of their teeth and gums. Having a tongue piercing for an extended period of time can lead to receding gums, and can cause chipped or cracked teeth. Many people tend to run the barbell-like piercing over the surface of the teeth or bite on the jewelry, causing damage. A tongue piercing can eventually lead to tooth loss over time.

Using the Teeth to Open Packages, Bottles, or Other Items

When other tools are not readily available, it can be tempting to rip open a package with our teeth, or even use the teeth to open a bottle. Next time you find yourself opening your afternoon snack with your teeth instead of scissors, remember that this habit can break or chip the teeth or damage a tooth filling or crown. Tooth decay can result from cracked, chipped or fractured teeth.

At Esthetix Dental Spa, we realize just how important oral health is for everyone. We offer a variety of procedures, such as general dentistry, laser technology, orthodontics, periodontics, and more so that everyone can have the healthy mouth that they deserve. We are compassionate and professional, and we understand that certain habits are difficult to break. That is why we will work with you to provide the advice and guidance you need to maintain the health of your entire mouth. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.