When it comes to oral health, we usually think of habits as a good thing. For example, brushing your teeth at least twice a day is a great habit or flossing every night before going to sleep. Yet there are some habits, when it comes to our teeth, that could actually be harmful. It’s important to recognize these “bad habits” quickly so that we do not do long term damage to our teeth and gums.
1. Biting Your Nails
When it comes to your teeth, biting your nails is a terrible habit that could break and damage your teeth. Over time it may cause a tooth to shift, become infected, or cause gum infection – all of which could cause pain. Let’s face it, our nails are dirty. Even with proper handwashing biting your nails introduces bacteria into your mouth. This could cause an infection in your nail bed but also cause disease throughout your entire body. Not to mention the bad bacteria under your fingernails may cause bad breath or halitosis.
2. Using Your Teeth As Tools
Similar to biting your fingernails, using your teeth as tools may also cause teeth to shift, chip, break, or become infected. Using your teeth to open a bottle, tear a tag, hold a nail, or bobby pin are all examples of using your teeth as tools. This is definitely not recommended. Teeth are strong but they are not meant to be used as tools. They are to be used for chewing and tearing food only.
3. Utilizing Toothpicks Incorrectly
Toothpicks are not necessarily a bad tool to clean between your teeth however, they are oftentimes used incorrectly. Toothpicks are pointy, they can cut and irritate the gums. Worse yet, if you’re always using a toothpick in the same area it causes the gums to recede and boneless may occur. In 2020 we have so many better choices than toothpicks to remove food and debris from between our teeth. Try a Waterpik or water flosser, soft-picks, or interdental brushes.
4. Drinking Sports Drinks & Soda
It’s easy to crave soda or even an ice-cold sports drink during the summer. We’re hot and looking for something tasty and refreshing to consume. But soda, and even sports drinks, contain very high amounts of sugar, which will cause decay and erosion of your teeth. We can easily become addicted to sugar and caffeine in these drinks. Not only will your risk of decay increase but also your risk of obesity. It’s best to choose water to rehydrate and leave sports drinks and soda alone.
5. Clenching & Grinding Your Teeth
This is a hard habit to recognize unless your partner notices while you’re sleeping. Often times our body naturally deals with stress by holding the jaws tight together and clenching or grinding the teeth overnight. Unless you’re getting a lot of jaw pain from clenching or grinding, it’s hard to tell if you’re doing it. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist at your next visit if there is any evidence of this bad habit showing in your teeth or gums. Often times, recession, abfractions, and generalized wear is noted. The good news is, this bad habit is easily fixed with an appliance to wear while you’re sleeping.