You constantly hear the good habits that protect your teeth and make for a healthy smile. Your mother, your dentist, the occasional toothpaste commercial, and even this blog deliver reminders for us to brush twice a day, floss daily, and see our dentist regularly. But, what about those bad habits that could be wrecking our teeth? Even patients with the best oral health routines probably engage in one or more of these “dental don’ts.” They can compromise the health of your teeth. So, for the sake of your pearly whites, put these bad habits to rest and keep your smile looking great!
- Chewing on ice. The brittleness and cold temperatures of the ice can cause your teeth to fracture. In fact, ice chewing is one of the leading causes of cracked or chipped teeth!
- Sipping soda. Soda has loads of sugar as well as phosphoric and citric acids, which eat away at tooth enamel. Diet drinks let you skip the sugar, but still contain acidic materials and are harmful to your teeth.
- Teeth grinding. Frequent grinding or clenching your teeth can cause fractures in your teeth and wears them down over time. It can also make for a sore jaw. Talk to your dentist about a custom fit mouth guard you can wear at night or other tactics to manage teeth grinding.
- Using your teeth as tools. Teeth were made for eating and chewing food. Twisting bottle caps, tearing open bags or cutting tape or string with your chompers are activities that will make your dentist cringe and can cause your teeth to chip or crack.
- Using a hard bristled tooth brush. Many people think that using a toothbrush with stiff brushes gets teeth cleaner and is a more effective than a soft bristled brush. This is not the case. Using a hard bristled toothbrush wears away at your gums and enamel over time. It can lead to sensitive teeth and irritate your gums.
- Constant snacking. While small, constant snacks are part of some diet trends, they are definitely not healthy for your teeth. Every time you eat, the pH level of your mouth drops. This acidic environment promotes enamel wearing and tooth decay. When you eat three or four meals a day, the time in between meals allows your mouth to return to a normal pH level. However, if you are frequently snacking, you can put your mouth in a constant, acidic state.
- Playing sports without wearing a mouth guard. It’s a good idea to protect your teeth when playing any contact sport. Without protection, your teeth are much more likely to be damaged or knocked out. You can buy “do-it-yourself” mouth guards at a sporting goods or drug store, or have a custom fit one made by your dentist.
- Smoking. Tobacco products can stain teeth and also significantly increase your risk for periodontal disease, which eventually causes bone loss and teeth to fall out. It is also a leading cause of cancer of the mouth, lips and tongue.
- Piercings. Tongue and lip piercings might be trendy, but biting down on the metal stud can damage your teeth. They also increase your risk for mouth sores and infections in your oral cavity.
- Chewing on pencils or biting your nails. Both of these activities weaken your teeth and can cause them to chip or crack. If you need to chew something, try chewing a sugarless gum, or better yet, one containing xylitol. Not only does chewing gum stimulate saliva production (which is beneficial for your teeth) xylitol has been shown to be effective at remineralizing your enamel, which helps to prevent tooth decay.
Keep up with your good oral hygiene habits and work on eliminating the negative ones. Your mouth with thank you for it! Can you think of a “bad teeth habit” that we missed? Share it with us, as well as ways you can resolve it, in the comments section below.