10 Bad Habits That Can Ruin Your Teeth
Do you love your teeth? If so, you probably brush and floss them twice a day. You probably also use mouthwash to kill harmful germs in your mouth. And on top of that, you probably do your best to stay away from teeth-staining tobacco and coffee products. Even still, you wonder: “Am I doing enough?”
You’re off to a great start caring for your teeth. However, you might unknowingly damage your teeth through your everyday habits. To help you take your dental care routine to the next level, we’ve put together the following list of the top 10 teeth-wrecking habits to avoid.
1. Using Teeth as Tools
At one point or another, most people use their teeth to open packages, tear tape, or hold items when their hands are full. What most people don’t realize is that using teeth as tools is one of the easiest ways to damage them.
Your teeth’s main purposes are to help you speak and chew. Using them to perform any other task could lead to chips, cracks, and even fractures.
2. Chewing on Ice
Snacking and chewing on ice seems harmless. After all, it contains no sugar or calories, so it must be a great snack. Unfortunately, ice can harm your teeth in several ways:
- Ice is hard enough to chip tooth enamel, which can eventually lead to fractures and breaks.
- Ice is cold enough to irritate the soft tissue in the teeth, causing painful toothaches and even migraines.
- Ice, over time, wears down tooth enamel. The more enamel wears away, the more likely teeth are to become sensitive and weak.
3. Clenching Your Jaw and/or Grinding Your Teeth
Do you clench your teeth when you’re in a stressful situation? Do any of your children grind their teeth when they sleep? Both of these habits, though subconscious, can cause severe tooth damage.
Because the human jaw is incredibly strong, clenching and grinding subjects the teeth to immense amounts of pressure. After prolonged exposure to this pressure, teeth wear down and weaken, heightening your risk of developing cavities and headaches.
4. Biting Your Fingernails
Just like you shouldn’t use your teeth as tools, you shouldn’t use them to trim your nails. Though it seems harmless, nail biting actually affects oral health in several ways. Nail biting:
- Flattens the edges of teeth, making it harder to chew.
- Causes root resorption, which will eventually cause teeth to die and fall out.
- Weakens tooth enamel.
- Exposes the mouth to disease- and infection-causing bacteria that could lead to gingivitis or oral herpes.
5. Sucking on Hard Candy
Candy contains a lot of sugar, and sugar is your teeth’s worst enemy. When you eat sugar, your mouth produces bacteria to begin the digestion process. This bacteria then produces acid that not only attacks sugar, but also tooth enamel. Over time, this acid corrodes tooth enamel and leads to tooth decay and cavities.
Hard candy is particularly harmful because it takes a long time to dissolve in your mouth. That means that if you suck on a lollipop for 15 minutes, your teeth get a 15-minute bath in sugar and decay-causing acid.
6. Drinking Soda and/or Sports Drinks
Soda and sports drinks are harmful for the same reason as hard candy: they contain large amounts of sugar. Each time you take a drink of Pepsi or Gatorade, you drench your teeth in sugar and acid. Stick with water when you need to rehydrate.
7. Eating Lots of Citrus Fruits
Although citrus fruits work wonders for your heart and immune system, they can wreak havoc on your teeth. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and other citrus fruits contain a lot of acid. As we learned in the sections above, overexposure to acid corrodes teeth and causes cavities.
You shouldn’t, however, cut citrus fruits out of your diet because they contain acid. Just make sure you drink lots of water when any time you snack on an orange.
8. Snacking Constantly
Many people snack throughout the day to stay alert, but this is actually bad for your teeth. Constant snacking causes the mouth to produce more acid and less saliva, which is harmful because saliva is the mouth’s first defence against decay.
Saliva sweeps food particles and acid away from the teeth, protecting them from corrosion and cavities. The less saliva you have, the less protected your teeth are.
Rather than snacking on refined foods or candy, chew on a piece of sugar-free gum or have some cheese.
9. Brushing Teeth Too Hard
Believe it or not, you can damage your teeth while brushing. Forceful brushing, particularly with medium or hard toothbrush bristles, irritates the gums and also wears down tooth enamel, which could cause infections and cavities. If you tend to use a heavy hand when brushing, try switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent damage and irritation.
10. Thumb Sucking
Although you probably don’t struggle with this habit, your children might. This habit is harmless when babies don’t have teeth, but it can cause severe damage once teeth grow in.
Thumb sucking causes teeth to become misaligned, which, in severe cases, can affect a child’s ability to chew, speak, and breathe. These problems often persist long after a child’s baby teeth fall out, causing confidence and self-esteem issues. Talk to your Red Deer dentist about putting a stop to this habit, as well as the habits mentioned above.