If the health of your teeth is important to you, you probably already practice good oral hygiene habits by brushing and flossing daily, using mouthwash and visiting your dentist regularly. But are there also habits that can damage your teeth? Here are some common habits you should be aware of that can lead to tooth decay or dental trauma so that you can know how to better protect and care for your teeth.
Clenching or Grinding
Most people aren’t even aware that they are doing it, whether they are awake or asleep, but clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth are actually some of the most common habits that can damage your teeth. If you’re experiencing chronic stress, tension headaches or notice that your top and bottom teeth are touching each other while at rest, chances are that you may be clenching your jaw.
Talk to your dentist about how you can practice relaxing your jaw and if you should invest in a mouthguard to wear at night or during other times when you may be prone to clench or grind your teeth such as while working at a desk or driving.
Biting your nails may be a habit that developed a long time ago to deal with stress. Unfortunately, it may not only lead to chipped teeth and jaw dysfunction, but it can also put you at risk for illness or infection because the area under your nails often harbors germs. It can take a while to rewire your brain to do healthier things when stressed so try to make small goals towards better habits or hold something in your hands in situations when you typically experience stress and are prone to nail biting.
Chewing ice cubes can lead to chipped and broken teeth, so it’s best to avoid chewing ice completely. If you enjoy chewing something crunchy, try chewing on some celery, carrots or other fruits or veggies.
Frequent snacking is another of the most common habits that can damage your teeth. The good news is that there are many things you can do to lessen the negative effects of snacking. Snacking may be necessary due to a busy schedule that makes it difficult to eat meals at regularly scheduled times or due to a medical condition like diabetes, so if you find the need to snack don’t feel guilty! Simply try to avoid unhealthy, sugary and sticky snacks and make an effort to choose healthier snacks like fruits and veggies and high fiber foods that can also provide some benefits to your teeth. Also, be sure to brush your teeth as soon as possible after you eat to clear away any food debris that could lead to tooth decay.
Using Teeth to Open Things
Last but not least, using your teeth as tools is always a bad idea. If you’re having difficulty opening a package or tearing something, it’s well worth the extra effort to go grab some scissors or a knife instead of using your teeth. The risk of dental trauma and exposure to germs just isn’t worth it!
Ask Your Dentist!
If you’ve caught yourself practicing these habits that can damage your teeth, it’s never a bad time to ask your dentist about concerns or alternatives you can turn to if you’re having trouble breaking the habit. As always, if you have questions, any question is always a great question to ask your dentist when it comes to dental health and safety.
Call our Maricopa Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.