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Even if you are diligent about keeping your twice-a-year dental visits and maintaining a perfect brushing and flossing routine, you can still be harming your teeth in other ways. Many of our patients are surprised to hear that their oral health efforts are falling short as a result of other bad behaviors.
Common Tooth-Damaging Habits
You might not think a certain habit would be bad for your teeth. In fact, some habits might even seem good for your dental health when they are truly not. Watch out for these sneaky habits that can damage your teeth without you even realizing it!
Brushing Too Hard
One of the most common ways we damage our teeth is by brushing too hard or incorrectly. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice per day for two full minutes. Brushing too hard, too often, or for too long can actually damage your tooth enamel. Aggressive brushing not only wears enamel but can irritate gums and cause tooth sensitivity or cavities.
Be gentle when brushing your teeth. In addition, angle your brush towards your gums to be sure you address both teeth and gums as you brush.
Using a Hard-Bristled Toothbrush
It may sound logical that a hard or medium-bristled brush would clean teeth more thoroughly, but that would be an incorrect assumption. Like brushing too hard, using a harder toothbrush can damage tooth enamel. Opt for a soft-bristled brush instead.
Tooth Grinding or Clenching Your Jaw
Tooth grinding is known as Bruxism, and it can have a serious impact on your teeth. The friction from tooth grinding can wear away enamel. Similarly, the extreme pressure on your teeth that results from grinding or clenching your jaw can cause tiny fractures. Worn enamel or tooth fractures leave teeth susceptible to bacteria, cavities, and breakage.
These habits can be caused by stress, so it may be a good idea to engage in stress-reduction techniques. During waking hours, try to be mindful that teeth should not touch unless you are chewing. In addition, it is common to grind teeth or clench your jaw during sleep. Investing in a night guard can save your teeth from these negative effects.
Chewing ice may seem like a good idea since it is calorie-free and staying hydrated is important. But ice is actually pretty hard, and chewing it can damage enamel or even cause teeth to crack or chip (for the same reason, you should avoid chewing any non-food items such as pens). This likelihood actually increases with ice because the cold temperatures can cause teeth to crack more easily. Choose sugarless gum to help break this habit.
Using Teeth as a Tool
You may not even realize you are doing it, but using your teeth to open that Amazon package may be bad for your oral health. Using teeth as a tool can lead to cracked teeth and other jaw injuries. Not to mention you could be introducing harmful bacteria into your mouth. Take the extra time to find an alternative to using your teeth.
Nail biting is a common habit for people of all ages. Unfortunately, chewing your fingernails can lead to tooth damage. In severe cases, repetitive nail biting can even cause TMJ and other jaw problems. Again, chewing sugarless gum can divert your attention from your nail-biting habit.
Children who suck their thumbs after permanent teeth begin to appear can cause permanent damage. Thumb sucking can cause misalignment that can lead to tooth damage and difficulty chewing, speaking, or even breathing. Help wean your child from this habit before the age of five.
Snacking on Sugar
If you find yourself snacking throughout the day, you can be exposing your teeth to sugar that causes cavities and other dental problems. Stick to fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts, which are healthier options. Rinse your mouth with water after a snack to reduce left-behind food particles.
Keep Up Healthy Habits
The best way to keep your smile healthy is with good habits. Like we said, brush twice a day for two minutes and watch out for bad behaviors like these creeping in.
Regularly visiting our office twice a year for your checkup and cleaning is key. If it has been longer than six months since your last cleaning and exam, call Dr. Aubrey Baudean DDS today to schedule your appointment!