Teeth are tough protrusions of bone, but they are far from indestructible. Normal wear and tear can break them down, but this can be prevented with good oral hygiene habits. Bad habits can accelerate the normal rate of tooth decay or cause damage directly.
Dental Habits to Avoid
There are many surprising ways people damage their teeth. Some everyday habits can chip teeth, cause impactions, damage gums, or cause other harm. The worst things you can do to your teeth include:
- Biting nails. Your nails are hard enough to chip your teeth if you bite down on them in the wrong way. Putting enough pressure on your jaw to bite through nails can also cause impactions and jaw damage.
- Brushing overly hard. Brushing your teeth keeps them healthy, but brushing too hard or with too stiff a brush can damage teeth and cause gum irritation.
- Clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth. These habits can result in tooth chipping or cracking, muscle tenderness, or joint pain in the jaw.
- Chewing ice. Ice and tooth enamel are both crystals. When two crystals press against each other, one will always break. Usually the ice breaks, but occasionally the tooth cracks instead.
- Eating frequently. Eating throughout the day, especially sugary foods, increases the risk for cavities.
- Substituting teeth for an extra hand or tools. Your teeth are not meant to hold something to free a hand, turn bottle caps, tear open bags, or anything other than eating. Any of these activities could damage teeth.
- Biting lip or tongue piercings. Biting down, purposefully or accidentally, on a metal piercing, can cause tooth damage. Rubbing the piercing against gums wears them down too and can lead to tooth loss.
- Sucking cough drops. Cough drops are soothing, but loaded with sugar. Sucking on them for long periods of time can increase the formation of cavities.
- Eating gummy candy. All sugar is damaging to teeth, but gummy candies are one of the worst. The candy can stick to or in between teeth for hours, constantly growing bacteria that creates cavities.
- Tobacco Use. Cigarettes smoking and dip both stain teeth, lead to gum disease (which causes tooth loss), and increase the risk of oral cancers.
These habits are not the only ones that damage teeth, but they are some of the worst. Avoiding these practices help keep your teeth whole and healthy.