Everyone knows about the importance of proper dental care. Brushing, flossing, and regularly seeing your dentist are extremely critical practices that keep your mouth healthy. But have you ever thought about how your habits affect your oral health? There might be something you’re doing every day that’s putting your smile at risk. Read on to learn which harmful habits you should steer clear of.
Not only can this nervous habit chip your teeth, but it can impact your jaw as well. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), nail-biting can lead to jaw dysfunction because it causes you to hold your jaw in a protruded position for long periods. Luckily, there are a few ways you can curb this habit:
- Apply bitter-tasting nail polish
- Find other ways to reduce stress
- Set small, realistic goals for yourself
- Hold something to keep your fingers busy
Brushing Too Hard
Some people believe that vigorous brushing helps clean your teeth better. However, it can do much more harm than good by damaging your teeth and irritating the gums. To keep your smile safe, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently brush your teeth using wide strokes. If it helps, think of it more as a massage rather than a scrub!
Grinding and Clenching Your Teeth
For some people, clenching and grinding teeth is one habit that happens subconsciously. Unfortunately, it can result in chipped or cracked teeth, muscle pain, and restricted jaw movement. The ADA recommends practicing relaxation exercises, wearing a nighttime mouth guard, or simply being more self-aware to prevent this habit.
Do you absentmindedly chew on leftover ice after finishing a cool, refreshing drink? This mindless habit can result in a broken tooth or filling. The ADA recommends drinking through a straw or ordering your beverages without ice to avoid temptation.
Snacking may be a great way to keep you going throughout the day, but it can increase your risk for cavities. Any time you eat sugary or starchy food, cavity-causing bacteria feast on the food particles, producing harmful acids that wear down your enamel. This process happens every time you eat, whether it’s a single chip or an entire meal. To reduce the amount of time spent snacking, make sure you eat well-balanced meals to help you feel fuller, longer.
Using Your Teeth as Tools
Never use your teeth for anything other than eating. Whenever you hold things with your teeth or bite open a package, you risk injuring your jaw or cracking a tooth. Instead of using your pearly whites as tools, find something or someone to give you a helping hand.
Now that you know which harmful habits to watch out for, you can aim for healthier choices instead. Your smile will thank you!
About the Author
Dr. James L. Schumacher has been enhancing smiles and improving the lives of all his patients for over 40 years. He earned his dental doctorate at the University of Florida and is currently a proud member of the American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, and the American Equilibration Society. To learn more about how certain habits can affect your oral health, visit our website or call (904) 388-3559.