Throughout the average person’s life, we fall into habits that can have positive or negative impacts on our health. Habits often form from a repetitive action and can be difficult to break. When it comes to dental health, poor habits can actually break your teeth and harm your jaw. The following common habits are important to recognize and break:
Biting your nails is a common anxiety-related coping mechanism. Unfortunately, the germs and bacteria that reside underneath your nails get introduced into your mouth when you bite your nails. The bacteria irritate the gums and may cause bad breath.
- Chewing on ice cubes
This seemingly harmless habit can actually cause your teeth to crack and break, as well as put undue stress on the jaw muscles.
- Using your teeth to replace tools
It’s never a good idea to use your teeth for any kind of job that a household tool can do. If you can open a bottle with a bottle opener, then use the bottle opener. Using teeth as tools can put you at risk for a broken tooth and damage to the enamel, ultimately increasing the risk for tooth loss.
- Aggressive brushing
If you see that your toothbrush bristles are frayed or brittle—you should change your toothbrush and ease up on your brushing. Brushing too hard can damage your gums and wear down your enamel. Over time, this can lead to a receding gum line and sensitive teeth.
- Clenching and grinding
Clenching your jaw and/or grinding your teeth not only wears down your teeth but also places undue stress on the jaw. Most people don’t even know that they are grinding or clenching their teeth! If you aren’t sure if you grind your teeth and/or clench your jaw, visit your dentist for a thorough exam.
How to Break Bad Dental Habits
Bite your nails: Look for another outlet for your anxiety and stress! Sometimes engaging in deep breathing, going for a short walk or doing yoga can help relieve tension.
Chew on ice cubes: Ask for drinks without ice. If you feel like you need ice in your drink, be aware of your habit so that if you feel yourself going to chew on the ice you can catch yourself and stop.
Use your teeth as tools: Keep a bottle opener on your keychain, or better yet, purchase pocket-sized tools! Remember, it is far more costly to lose a tooth than to buy common household tools.
Brush too hard: Consider buying an electric toothbrush with a sensor. These kinds of toothbrushes can sense if you are using too much pressure, and some even come with a timer to make sure you brush for a full 2 minutes.
Grind your teeth and/or clench your jaw: Speak with your dentist to see if you can be fitted for a night guard to protect your teeth and jaw from damage while you sleep.
Advanced DDS is a premiere dental practice in Garden City, NY that offers a full range of dental services including IV sedation and general anesthesia. Schedule your dental appointment at 516-825-1100 today.