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How to Break Bad Habits That Hurt Your Teeth

Did you know that good habits can be just as hard to break as bad ones? Reminding yourself of that age-old mantra can be very handy when it comes to avoiding bad habits that can harm your teeth while establishing good habits that can help you maintain a healthy, winning smile.

The American Dental Association recently posted a helpful article entitled “6 Habits That Harm Your Teeth (and How to Break Them)”, which offers some quick and important tips on how to stop common habits that could create potentially severe effects on dental health. By breaking bad habits, you can dramatically reduce the risk of harming your teeth in ways that may eventually require major cosmetic dentistry or restorative dental care to properly fix. The list includes:

Biting Your Nails

This is definitely one of the most common habits among individuals across the age spectrum, and it can also be one of the most damaging. Regularly chewing your nails can actually chip the teeth, not to mention the impact it can have on the jaws. To help get rid of this habit, concentrate on reducing your level of stress (without biting your nails) — holding a finger spinner or other object that can keep your fingers busy might be a good start. A nail polish that has a bitter taste may also help lessen the urge to bite the nails.

Ice Chewing

Persistent chewing of ice can break a tooth or a filling. To reduce your temptation to chew on ice cubes or shards, try drinking cold beverages without the ice, or using a straw in ice-filled drinks.

Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard

Brushing your teeth at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes each time is a terrific habit; but you may actually be harming your teeth if you are brushing them too hard. A toothbrush that has excessively hard rather than soft bristles can also be problematic. To minimize the possibility of damaging the teeth or irritating the gums, try using a soft toothbrush (complete with the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association), and apply only gentle, massage-like pressure to the teeth rather than scrub-like pressure.

Persistent Snacking

We all love a good snack, but snacking all day – particularly if the snacks/beverages are high in sugar – can raise the risk of cavity development. Bacteria that cause cavities can leave an acid on the shell of your teeth, which can make them more susceptible to harm. A select number of balanced meals throughout the day can often leave a longer feeling of fullness. If you’d like a snack, it is better to have one that is not high in fat or sugar. If you’re having that occasional sugary-snack craving, just be sure to drink a tall glass of water right after you eat it. That can help rinse away any leftovers on the teeth.

Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth

Bruxism (teeth grinding/clenching) can occur while sleeping when you aren’t even aware of it, but some people clench and grind their teeth as a daily habit. Clenching and grinding the teeth can produce cracks and chips, and these habits can create painful joints and muscle tenderness, as well. Maintaining awareness of the fact that you grind your teeth can help you alert yourself to stop when you do it. Relaxation exercises can help with this during the day, and an oral mouthguard can prevent teeth grinding at night.

Using the Teeth as Tools to Open or Cut Objects

Using your teeth to open a package, bottle, or other object can create an array of big risks: you could crack a tooth; accidentally swallow part of the object; or even hurt your jaw. The best way to avoid these risks is to resist the urge to use your teeth as tools. If you’re having trouble opening an item, please find an actual tool – or perhaps even another person – to help.

If you have questions about dental treatment options that can address common dental concerns and help renew the health, function, and appearance of your teeth, please don’t hesitate to contact Eastern Virginia Family & Cosmetic Dentistry today.