We understand bad habits are hard to break. Sometimes you may not even be aware that something you’re doing in your everyday life can be hard on your teeth. In this article you will discover a few common habits, how they can negatively affect your oral health, and how you can nip them all in the bud.
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Brushing too hard is a common habit for many people, mostly because it doesn’t seem so bad. Yes, it’s important to brush in those hard-to-reach spaces, but aggressive brushing can cause your gums to recede, wear down tooth enamel, and expose the sensitive roots of your teeth. This makes your teeth much more sensitive to hot and cold foods and prone to stains.
A telltale sign of aggressive brushing is if the bristles on your toothbrush are bent. You should be guiding your brush in gentle, circular strokes over your teeth, and finishing with a thorough floss.
Solution: If you’re finding it difficult to stop brushing this way, consider switching to a more soft-bristled toothbrush.
The enamel on your teeth is a mineral. It is actually the hardest substance in the human body, but it can be worn down all the same. Chewing on ice cubes can damage the enamel and chip your teeth. The temperature of the ice can also increase your mouth’s sensitivity to both hot and cold foods.
Solution: If you have a hard time stopping this habit, switch to a crushed ice or slush that can melt and soften more quickly in your mouth. Popsicles are also a good alternative, provided you aren’t ingesting too much sugar from them. That brings us to our next habit!
Snacking on Sugary Foods
Having excessive sugar in your diet is not healthy for your body in general, but your mouth is the first to be exposed to those sugars. It’s easy to snatch a few sweets from your office’s candy dish or to add a little sugar to your afternoon coffee. It doesn’t help that it all tastes so good.
Solution: You don’t have to completely cut out sugar. If you find yourself needing a sugary snack, keep your snacking time contained to a half hour. Continuously exposing your teeth to sugary foods and drinks all day means that your teeth don’t get a chance to recover. Alternatively, you can also flush away some of the sugars in your mouth with a glass of water.
Beyond ingesting the hundreds of bacteria living under your fingernails, biting your nails puts your jaw in an unnatural position, which can cause you a lot of pain. It is very possible to chip a tooth by biting your nails. This habit can often accompany bruxism, also known as a wearing down of your teeth through excessive teeth clenching or grinding. Headaches and extreme tooth sensitivity are common symptoms of bruxism.
Solution: Nail biting is a very common compulsion that is difficult to quit. If you are able to, wear gloves or apply a bitter nail polish to your fingernails to deter yourself from any urges.
Chewing on Things
Some people have oral fixations. Chewing on something like the end of a pen can help you take your mind off of a tedious task or think through a problem. But your teeth were not made for chewing anything tougher than they are. Any damage you cause to your teeth leaves them susceptible to decay, and they certainly aren’t meant for you to use them as tools. Opening a bottle with your mouth is a quick way to crack a tooth, and we do not recommend it.
Solution: We would suggest you chew sugar-free gum or in order to satisfy any urges to chew.
Some of these daily compulsions may seem obvious, but they are also very easy to overlook or minimize. We hope you find our recommendations useful in keeping your mouth happy.