Many of us have habits we picked up as young children or developed later on in life that aren’t necessarily great for our teeth. While usually not intentional, we do things that are potentially harming our teeth on a regular basis, sometimes even in our sleep. Cracking down on these behaviors can really improve mouth health and the longevity of your teeth, so it’s important to focus on the worst offenders.
Chewing on Foreign Objects
If it isn’t food or drink, keep it out of your mouth! Sometimes chewing on a pen cap can feel therapeutic while studying or working but it can cause damage to natural teeth or and dental work. If chewing helps with concentration or stress, use sugar-free gum instead! Also, making a habit of opening things using your teeth as a tool comes with huge risk which can often end in chipped front teeth or enamel damage.
Some people are brushing way too hard and wearing away at their enamel and gums while some people are not brushing nearly enough! Make sure you are brushing twice a day for at least two minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush gently massaging your teeth in a circular motion. Consider investing in an electric toothbrush which can increase your routine’s efficiency. If you need suggestions on how to brush better, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist!
Smoking or Chewing Tobacco
You probably have already heard a thousand times over how bad smoking is for your health, but it’s also terrible for your teeth. Teeth are on the front line of very cigarette drag meaning they are exposed to hard chemicals that can stain them and even cause gum or tongue cancer. Chewing tobacco is just as bad, particularly when sores are created around the gum line that can easily become infected and lead to major problems that can’t be fixed with dental surgery.
This is one of the most common bad habits people exhibit but also one of the grossest! Not only is nail-biting horrible for tooth enamel, but it also introduces tons of nasty bacteria into the mouth. Think about all the dirty things the average person holds in their hands on an average day. Now think about all of the germs that get lodged under fingernails! Ditch this habit all together for your overall health and the people closest to you will also probably thank you.
Late Night Snacking
Sometimes the urge to take a bite of the cake sitting in the fridge strikes in the middle of the night. But without brushing your teeth before crawling back into bed, the sugar and particles from that late night snack are going to stick around. When we brush our teeth at night before going to bed, typically nothing else should come into contact with our teeth until the next day. Taking a sip of something with sugar like tea, or having a tiny bite of food before going to sleep resets the clock and teeth need to be re-cleaned.
Whether it is fruit juice or soda, these liquids contain large amounts of sugar which is very detrimental for tooth health. While these drinks are tasty, they’re not very healthy at all. Some fresh squeezed juice does contain valuable vitamins and minerals, but don’t forget that fruit contains sugar, even if it’s healthy, On top of sugar, soda also contains various acids that eat away at tooth enamel. If you like to indulge once in a while, it’s not a huge deal but be sure to wait about a half house before brushing your teeth after consuming. If you brush your teeth too soon after drinking soda, your softened enamel can be damaged by your toothbrush.
While some people love the crunchy and cool sensation of chewing ice, it’s absolutely horrible for teeth! Not to mention, some people in your vicinity probably find the sound to be annoying! Chewing ice can lead to cracked or chipped teeth and also heightened sensitivity due to teeth being exposed to freezing temperatures. Do yourself and others around you a favor and drop this habit ASAP!
Some people like to give the liquids in their mouth a big old swish around before they swallow. While sometimes it’s good to swish water to remove food particles and keep gums and teeth moist, swishing with any other liquid is just dispersing sugar and acids from juices or soda (even diet) around to all your teeth. When drinking anything but water, you want to avoid contact with your teeth as much as possible to preserve your enamel and lessen your chances of bacteria hiding in tiny crevices between your teeth and gums. Swishing is spreading the sugar, acids, and other bad stuff to even more of your teeth. Not to mention, it’s quite a social faux pas to do at the dinner table!
Grinding and Clenching
Now, these are some of those habits that have probably developed over the years, even possibly starting at a young age. It’s possible to even clench or grind your teeth at night while sleeping without even being aware of it. These habits are tough to break because it’s difficult to control what you do while you’re sleeping, but night guards can really aid in reducing the damage. There are some other options your dentist can recommend if you are having issues with stress clenching as it can truly damage your teeth, especially molars, which can be worn down or even crack under pressure.
While red wine may be worse for staining your teeth, white wine is also very acidic and can weaken enamel. However, alcohol itself is also very harmful to teeth as it dries the mouth, making it an environment where bacteria to grow. Heavy alcohol consumption is also linked to gum disease, mouth sores, tooth decay, and other issues.
Habits can be hard to break, but with a little willpower and perseverance, anyone can tackle these bad habits, for the sake of their teeth!