Habits are repeated behaviors that are routinely performed. Some people are aware of their habits, while others may not consciously realize they have a habit. Regardless, our habits can have positive and negative impacts on many things, including our oral health. Some examples of positive oral habits include brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist every six months. Conversely, there are also certain habits that have a negative effect on our oral health. Here are some of the worst oral habits:
Grinding and Clenching
Formally known as bruxism, grinding and clenching can cause your teeth to become chipped or cracked. Additionally, the constant stress placed on your jaw joint from grinding and clenching can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Since many people grind and clench while they sleep, you may be unaware of this habit until your dentist brings it to your attention. If you are a bruxer, your dentist will likely recommend a dental night guard to protect your teeth and jaw.
When brushing your teeth, hard brushing can lead to enamel and gum damage. To prevent this, you should first make sure you are using a toothbrush with soft bristles. Next, you will want to avoid scrubbing your teeth and massage them instead. To determine if you are brushing too hard, take a look at your toothbrush after a few uses. If your bristles are flaring outward, then you are likely applying too much pressure.
Chewing on ice may seem harmless, but it can actually result in broken teeth and fillings. This is because ice and tooth enamel have a crystalline structure. When two crystals are forced into one another, one will break. Even though it is usually the ice that breaks, this is not always the case. Therefore, drinking with a straw is an easy way to prevent ice chewing.
People who regularly bite their nails are doing damage to more than just their nails. Not only can nail-biting cause the teeth to chip, but it can also cause problems with the jaw. When people bite their nails, the jaw maintains an abnormal, protruding position for extended periods of time. This position places additional stress on the jaw joint and the surrounding structures. Eventually, this can lead to jaw dysfunction and pain. Since this behavior is commonly associated with stress, anxiety, or nervousness, one way to reduce it is to practice stress reduction techniques. Bitter-tasting nail polish can also help.
Substituting Teeth for Tools
Your teeth are for biting, chewing, and grinding food. Nothing else. One of the worst oral habits people have is using their teeth as tools to hold things, open bottles and packages, or to act as scissors. Not only can this cause severe damage to your teeth, but it can also damage your jaw. To make things simple, don’t substitute your teeth for tools. Just use the tools.
Overall, these are some of the worst oral habits that can have a negative effect on your oral health. Therefore, these habits should be avoided at all costs to ensure your teeth remain healthy and in one piece. Additionally, practicing good oral habits such as brushing twice a day and flossing daily are also essential to maintain your oral health.
Dr. Quartano is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry. He is also an active member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, American Dental Association, Northlake Dental Association, and has attained D.O.C.S. certification. Dr. Quartano has served as Committee Chair for the LDA Council on New Dentist since 2011. Dr. Q is also a member of Spear Faculty Club which limits its membership to just 1000 dentist worldwide. Since graduating from dental school Dr. Quartano has completed over 700 hours of post doctorate education in Implants, Oral surgery, Cosmetic dentistry, Endodontics, Invisalign, and Advanced Restorative techniques. Dr. Quartano has also completed Foundational and Core workshops at the Spear Center for Advanced Dental Education.