People often develop bad habits like biting their nails and overeating sweets without realizing the potential harm they can do to their teeth. These habits can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other severe dental problems that cause pain and discomfort. Here, we discuss a few such unhealthy habits that damage the teeth. By being aware of these habits and altering them, you can extend the longevity and health of your pearly whites.
Using the teeth as tools
Using your teeth as tools to open bottles, tear packages, or break hard nuts can cause significant damage. These actions can chip or crack the teeth, damage dental work, and cause jaw problems or gum bleeding. Always use the appropriate tools for these tasks and protect your teeth.
Biting the nails
Nail biting is a common habit associated with stress and anxiety. Besides damaging the nails, it can harm teeth. The constant pressure exerted on the teeth from nail biting can lead to tooth fractures, misalignment, and jaw problems. Finding alternative stress-relieving activities can help break this habit.
Using a toothbrush with hard bristles
A toothbrush with hard bristles may seem to provide more efficient cleaning, but long-term use can cause the enamel to erode and make the teeth more sensitive to damage. Gentle toothbrushes not only do the job of cleaning well but also support dental health.
Chewing ice and hard objects
Chewing on ice, pens, or hard candies can cause tiny cracks in the teeth, leading to significant problems over time. These habits can also damage existing dental work, like fillings or crowns. Avoid chewing on hard objects to protect your teeth from unnecessary harm.
Consuming acidic foods and drinks
Acidic foods and beverages like citrus fruits, sports drinks, energy drinks, vinegar, and carbonated drinks can weaken and erode the enamel, making the teeth more susceptible to decay and sensitivity. Rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing to minimize the effects of the acid content.
Playing sports without mouth guards
Engaging in contact sports like ice hockey, football, lacrosse, or boxing without wearing a mouth guard puts your teeth at risk of injury. A sudden impact on the face can result in broken or knocked-out teeth. Wearing a properly-fitted guard can protect your teeth during such activities.
Irregular flossing is among the most unhealthy habits that damage the teeth. Brushing alone cannot reach the tight spaces where food particles and plaque accumulate. Flossing helps remove these substances, preventing tooth decay and gum disease. So, make it a habit to floss daily to maintain optimal oral hygiene.
Using excessive whitening products
Teeth whitening products can enhance your smile, but excessive or improper use can be dangerous. Research shows that these whitening products usually contain hydrogen peroxide, an ingredient that can weaken dentin—the protective layer of the teeth below the enamel. Consult a dentist before using products or practices to whiten your teeth at home.
Ignoring dental issues
Neglecting dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth sensitivity can worsen the condition over time. On the other hand, prompt dental care can prevent further damage to the teeth and gums.
Delaying or skipping dental check-ups
Regular check-ups are crucial for early detection and prevention of dental issues. Dentists can detect the early signs, provide professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar, and offer personalized advice for maintaining healthy teeth. Delaying or skipping these appointments can worsen oral problems, and you would require extensive and costly treatments later on. Experts recommend check-ups and cleanings every six months.
Overconsuming staining foods and beverages
Frequently consuming deeply pigmented foods and beverages like coffee, tea, and berries can stain your teeth over time. Brushing or rinsing the mouth after consuming these items can minimize the staining effects. Additionally, professional teeth whitening treatments can help restore the natural brightness of your smile.
Snacking throughout the day, especially on sugary or starchy foods, exposes the teeth to a constant acid attack. Each time you eat, the bacteria in the mouth produce acid that damages tooth enamel. To avoid this, limit snacking on these items and opt for healthier options like fruits, vegetables, or nuts.
Using toothpicks incorrectly
Toothpicks can help dislodge food particles stuck between the teeth. But instead of forcefully prying or jabbing them between your molars, use gentle strokes. Interdental cleaners can also safely remove trapped debris.
Teeth grinding is the habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth, often during sleep or stress. The excessive force exerted on the teeth while grinding can affect the enamel, lead to jaw pain, and weaken the teeth gradually.
Thumb sucking is a common habit among infants and young children, as it provides them with comfort and security. However, prolonged thumb sucking can have adverse effects on dental health. The continuous pressure and suction on the thumb can cause misalignment of the teeth and jaw, leading to an open bite or an overbite. It can also affect teeth growth and speech development. If thumb sucking persists beyond the age when permanent teeth begin to erupt, parents should encourage their children to break the habit gradually to prevent long-term dental problems.