You brush your teeth twice a day, floss frequently, and avoid sugary drinks and candies at all cost, but are bad habits keeping you from having your best dental hygiene? Biting your nails, using tobacco products, chewing on ice, using your teeth as a tool, and even brushing your teeth too hard could all be negatively affecting the health of your teeth and gums. Here is how each bad habit is harming your mouth:
1. Nail Biting
Nail biting is a widespread habit, as dentist Thomas P. Connelly writes in this article for The Huffington Post. Not only is this unsanitary, as the bacteria under your fingernails may get passed to your mouth, but it can damage your teeth as well. Your front teeth especially are likely to be worn down and eventually crooked if you have developed this habit. Kick this habit by keeping your hands busy. Try carrying around a small object or stress ball to fidget with when you would otherwise be mindlessly biting your nails. Also, try keeping your nails either painted or extremely short, so you won’t want or be able to bite them anymore.
2. Using Tobacco Products
Everyone knows what an unhealthy habit using tobacco products is, but you probably think about lung health rather than dental hygiene when it comes to the issue. Not only do tobacco products cause tooth decay and turn your pearly-whites yellow, they can also cause certain mouth cancers and reduce blood flow to your gums. This is probably one of the toughest bad habits to break, but your teeth, gums, and overall health will benefit greatly if you ditch the tobacco products.
3. Chewing On Ice
If you’re someone who likes to crunch on ice after you’ve finished your drink, you may think it’s a completely harmless habit. Unfortunately, doing this could cause your teeth to become weaker over time. Ice cubes are harder than what our teeth are meant to bite down on, according to Empire Dental Group. Instead of crushing through ice the way your teeth do food, they have to put force against it. The cold temperatures are also bad for you teeth, especially if you already have weakened enamel.
4. Using Your Teeth as a Tool
You’ve done it: used your teeth as a bottle opener, ripped tags off of clothes, or ripped off a strip of tape when you didn’t have scissors. Using your teeth as a tool is one of the easiest ways to cause cracks and send you to your dentist in pain. Teeth aren’t designed to be used to tug on hard objects, and doing so can cause serious damage. If you have any dental work done, using your teeth as a tool could rip off caps and pull out fillings, so try to avoid this habit at all costs. Instead, reach for those scissors and give your mouth a break. It should also be noted that most of these foreign objects that you’re putting in your mouth are extremely dirty and can cause gum health issues.
5. Brushing Too Hard
Brushing your teeth is supposed to improve dental hygiene, not worsen it. However, if you are a heavy-handed brusher you might be causing some damage to your tooth enamel. This will cause your teeth to become more sensitive and to eventually begin wearing down. Use a softer-bristled brush if you have a tendency to scrub your teeth too hard, and make sure you are using non-abrasive toothpaste to protect your enamel and leave your teeth strong. Read this article from workingwelltogether.org to learn healthy brushing habits that won’t cause you eventual pain and prevent enamel and gum erosion.