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  • Writer's pictureThe Dental Booth

Bad habits that hurt your teeth

It is not always easy to break a bad habit. It has been said that it takes the average person around 21 or 30 days to break a single bad habit. But some habits are definitely worth the effort to break, especially ones that may be doing damage to your oral health.

Nail-biting - Known as a compulsive habit, meaning that it is often repeated without a person even aware of what they are doing. Nail-biting is most commonly seen, especially in children. However, it becomes a problem when done too often. Excessive nail biting can harm the teeth and gums, and pieces of the nail can upset the lining of the stomach if swallowed. Nail-biting can also transfer germs that cause illness. The solution for this will be bitter-tasting food gels and nail paints, stress reduction, and setting small, realistic goals can help. If certain situations are triggers, hold something to keep your fingers busy.

Brushing too hard - Some people brush their teeth too hard, believing that it cleans and removes plaque from the surface of their teeth. However, aggressive brushing can cause enamel erosion and gum irritation over time. Instead, brush your teeth less vigorously for two minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Using your teeth as a tool - Using your teeth to open packages or bottles is never a good idea. This bad habit may lead to dental emergencies, such as a chipped or cracked tooth. You may require a dental implant to replace the damaged tooth. Use scissors or a bottle opener next time, and your teeth will thank you.

Chewing on pens and pencils - You may not even be aware of the urge to chew while you're concentrating, but this habit can cause teeth to crack or chip, and can also irritate the soft tissue inside teeth. A healthier pattern would be reaching for sugarless gum the next time you feel the urge to chew.

Chewing on ice - Tooth enamel and ice are both crystals, and when you push two crystals against each other, one will break – usually, it's the ice, but sometimes it's a tooth or a filling. Chewing ice while drinking cold beverages is a common habit that is easily broken by avoiding ice or drinking cold beverages with a straw. If you have to chew on something, make sure it won't damage your teeth. Instead of reaching for those ice cubes, opt for soft fruits and vegetables, or sugar-free gum.

Grinding and Clenching - This habit can cause chipping or cracking of the teeth, as well as muscle tenderness or joint pain. You might also feel like you can't open your mouth wide or chew with pain. A solution for it would be relaxation exercises, and staying aware makes a difference. Consult a dentist and using a nighttime mouth-guard is recommended. You'll have less tooth damage, less pain and muscle soreness, and better sleep.

Binge eating - Grazing all day, especially on sugary foods and drinks, puts you at a higher risk for cavities. When you eat, cavity-causing bacteria feast leftover food, producing an acid that attacks the outer shell of your teeth. The best way to avoid constant snacking will be to eat balanced meals to feel fuller, longer. If you need a snack, make sure it's low in fat and sugar. If you indulge in the occasional sugary treat, follow it with a big glass of water to wash away leftover food.

Misuse of toothpicks - Toothpicks are created to remove gunk stuck between the teeth. However, misusing toothpicks can cause enamel damage and scratches on the surface of the teeth. Also, shoving toothpick deep within the crack of your teeth causes the teeth to shift and form gaps.

Inadequate hydration - Proper hydration is an under-appreciated secret for healthy teeth. When brushing is not an option, drinking a glass of water helps wash away the food particles, bacteria, and acid from your mouth. Drinking water after consuming stain-causing foods (like red wine or coffee) will rinse away the tannin's and other stain-causing chemicals, keeping your teeth whiter and brighter.


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