When it comes to at-home dental care, most of know that a daily brushing and flossing routine is the best way to head off dental issues.
But, in addition to brushing and flossing, there are other things you should (or, in this case, shouldn’t!) be doing to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. Some of the items on this list should be obvious, others, not so much.
We all want to avoid messed up teeth and the pain and discomfort they bring. Keep reading for our helpful list of 10 bad habits that can compromise the health of your mouth.
1. Chewing Ice
Chewing on ice cubes might seem like a harmless habit. After all, water’s good for us!
Well, it turns out the frozen kind isn’t that great for our teeth. If consumed too often, the hard, cold texture of ice cubes or chips can wear down tooth enamel. Worse yet, frequently chomping the cold cubes increases the chance that you’ll chip a tooth or damage existing dental work. Chronic ice chewers might also see an increase in toothaches and sensitivity.
So by all means, increase your water intake. However, for the sake of your pearly whites, get your daily requirement in liquid form.
2. Night Grinding
Do you ever wake up in the morning with a sore, stiff jaw or a headache? If so, you might be unknowingly grinding or clenching your jaw while you sleep.
This condition, known as “bruxism,” is common and has several causes. Some people grind their teeth due to a sleep disorder, anxiety, or a poorly aligned bite. Others might experience grinding as a side-effect of some common prescription medications.
In addition to the sore jaw and headaches this can cause, it also wears down the teeth prematurely and can damage dental work. If you suspect you grind your teeth, see your dentist. He or she can take a look and potentially recommend that you wear a guard at night.
Do you have a habit of biting your nails when you’re nervous or bored? If so, you might want to take steps to quit.
In addition to being hard on nails and cuticles, chronic nail-biting is also hard on your teeth. The repetitive motion of biting over and over using the same teeth can cause wearing of the enamel or even fractures.
Nail-biting can be a tough habit to break, but think of your teeth next time you’re tempted to chew.
4. Playing Sports Without A Mouthguard
Whether you play soccer, hockey, rugby, or lacrosse, a well-fitting mouthguard is an essential accessory!
Dental injuries, including cracked or broken teeth, are common sports injuries. A mouthguard can’t offer 100% protection, it can dramatically decrease the risk.
Don’t take the chance. Always play with a good mouthguard!
5. Poor Brushing Habits
When it comes to brushing, there is too much of a good thing.
In an effort to have a clean, fresh mouth, some of us are actually brushing too often or too hard. In general, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is sufficient. If you want to brush after a meal, it’s smart to wait 30 to 45 minutes.
When you brush, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and don’t push too hard. If the bristles on your brush become flattened, you’re pressing too hard. A light touch is better!
Brushing too hard or too much can put you at risk for worn-down enamel and sensitivity. To freshen your mouth between meals, swish with plain water or chew sugar-free gum.
6. Eating Hard Candies
Some people enjoy hard candies as a snack in between meals. While the occasional sweet treat is fine, avoid eating sugary candies on a daily basis.
The bacteria found in plaque love sugar as much as we do. These bacteria will use sugar as fuel to attack and chip away at your enamel. Hard candies and other sugary sweets provide harmful bacteria everything they need to feast on your healthy teeth.
7. Sipping on Soft Drinks
Much like the hard candies we described above, sugary soft drinks also provide harmful bacteria with the boost they need to do some serious damage to teeth.
But before you reach for a diet soda instead, be aware that these sugar-free counterparts can harm teeth, too. Diet sodas tend to be high in acids that can erode enamel.
If you do drink sodas, don’t sip them. Rinse your mouth with plain water afterward.
8. Drinking Lemon Water
Since we just told you to steer clear of regular and diet sodas, you might be reaching for a refreshing glass of lemon water. Hold up!
Unfortunately, routinely sipping water with lemon or lime juice can cause erosion of tooth enamel for the same reason diet soda can. The acids eat away at teeth and weaken enamel over time.
The occasional glass doesn’t hurt, but try not to sip it daily.
9. Using Teeth as Tools
Don’t do this. We repeat: don’t do this. Use teeth for chewing food. They are not makeshift bottle openers or scissors. You risk cracking or chipping teeth when you use them in this manner.
Carry a multiuse pocket knife instead – spare your teeth!
As if you needed another reason to quit, smoking is bad for your teeth.
The bacteria introduced to your mouth when you smoke can cause periodontal (gum) disease. Severe periodontal disease can eventually lead to loss of teeth. Take steps to quit smoking today!
Avoid Messed Up Teeth
It may seem like there are a lot of “don’ts” on this list. However, avoiding messed up teeth is really very simple.
Drink plenty of water, eat a fresh, healthy diet, brush and floss, and see your dentist for regular exams.
If you’re in the Birmingham area and need a gentle, caring, professional dental team for routine care of cosmetic dentistry, contact our office today!