We’re all guilty of bad habits, whether we know it or not. It can be a nervous tick or just something we’ve gotten used to over time. We all, at some point, have either kicked them or been told about them. However, sometimes these habits are harmful, if not annoying. How do we know when they’re bad habits? When it comes to your teeth, these are some common unhealthy dental habits you may not have known about.
Common Unhealthy Dental Habits That Harm Your Teeth
1. Teeth grinding
Teeth grinding and clenching, otherwise known as Bruxism, is a dental health issue that generally spawns from anxiety and nervousness. In most cases, we don’t know we’re doing it (unless the person sitting next to us tells us so). But what we especially don’t know is the amount of damage we’re causing. It will cause the enamel on your teeth to weaken and break down, making our teeth weaker and more sustainable to future wear and tear. It can also cause joint and teeth pain, which can get as bad as not being able to open your mouth or chew without intense pain.
Clearly, this can become a serious problem. So if you are stuck in an endless cycle of clenching or grinding your teeth, ask your dentist about options. They may recommend being fitted for an occlusal or night guard. If the cause is stress, they’ll most likely talk to you about reducing stress in your life. It’s also recommended that you avoid alcohol and caffeine, as both of those substances can only make impulsive grinding worse. Botox has also proven to be a great solution, as it relaxes the muscle. That makes it difficult for your jaw to involuntarily start grinding or clenching your teeth.
2. Chewing on ice
Out of all the common unhealthy dental implants, this is one the person sitting next to you has probably informed you about. Not only is this one a bit of a noisy nuisance, but it’s one of the more harmful oral health habits. Many people don’t realize that ice is actually not too different than your teeth in terms of hardness and density. Chewing on ice means your teeth and the ice are essentially battling it out for who’s the toughest. Ice is often the victor.
Chewing ice is a bad dental health habit. Even worse is the idea that it could be a symptom of something severe. It’s a popular belief that craving that oral fixation of chomping on ice, also known as pagophagia, is a sign of iron deficiency anemia. Make sure you’re getting enough nutrition in your diet so you aren’t at a loss for iron.
If you crave ice or other things like clay or wood, then see a doctor or a nutritionist to get an idea of how to handle your eating habits. “Pica,” as it’s also often referred to, can also be the result of stress or emotional issues. In any case, check to see with your doctor if you just can’t kick these common bad habits of damaging your teeth through chewing.
3. Brushing your teeth too hard
This is an easy bad habit to get into because we often don’t feel like we’re doing enough for our teeth. When the dentist says “brush,” what they really mean is “massage.” We tend to overestimate the resistance of plaque, but in reality, swift yet soft strokes get the job done. Why is brushing too hard on the list of common unhealthy dental habits? Brushing too hard can damage your gums, as well as your teeth.
The only solution is to brush more gently. Brushing your teeth really shouldn’t be a chore, nor should it hurt. You should also invest in a brush with softer bristles and practice proper brushing habits. Most modern electronic toothbrushes have built in sensors that detect when you are brushing too hard. Brush too hard, the toothbrush shuts off. It’s proven to be very effective.
4. Biting your nails
Another nervous habit, biting your nails, is one of the more harmful oral health habits. When you bite your nails, you’re hurting your teeth and your nails. It can cause teeth pain, enamel damage, bleeding gums (if you’re not careful), and irregular nail growth. Worst of all, your nails are the dirtiest parts of your body. Biting your nails increases your chances of getting sick with a number of illnesses.
Finding a cure for this nasty habit can be tricky, as not even manicures can survive the persistence of this oral addiction. However, there are some things you can try. For example, you can put awful tasting nail polish on your nails that would act as a reminder every time you put your nails in your mouth. You can also keep your nails trimmed short.
Ultimately, though, you want to work towards the root of the problem: your nerves. Just like with most of the common unhealthy dental habits on this list, it’s a common side-effect of anxiety or other emotional issues. Talk to a doctor if you can’t kick the habit yourself.
5. Multi-purpose teeth
Using your teeth to open bags, cut tape or hold items can have consequences. If you don’t use your teeth for their intended purpose or hold things in your mouth for an extended period of time, you can seriously damage them. Most people think it’s harmless, just opening up a small package or grabbing something solid with your teeth, but if anything goes wrong or you slip up, you can crack or break a tooth, or perhaps even further injure yourself. Any prolonged biting onto something you’re not supposed to will damage your teeth.
The solution is simple: be mindful of what you put in your mouth and don’t exert your teeth doing something they’re not designed to do. Instead of opening that package with your teeth, find some scissors or a knife, and save those teeth for the food you eat.
Developing Good Habits Starts with the Dentist
Balle and Associates consists of highly educated and practiced dentists who know all about teeth safety and good habits. If you break a tooth chewing ice or brushing too hard, stop by and we’ll take care of it.