Even if your brush your teeth, floss, and see your dentist twice a year, there is still room for improvement. Bad dental habits are easy to adopt, even if you aren’t aware that they are bad habits. And of course, if you’re not aware you’re doing things to harm your dental health, you don’t know that you need to – and how to – fix them!
Here are some bad dental habits that you may not be aware of:
Crunching, Sucking, and Sipping
It’s a hot summer day. You get an ice-cold Coke, slurp it down and then crunch on the ice that wandered into your mouth. Seems fine, right? Wrong.
The texture, consistency, and coldness of the ice cubes are combining to damage your teeth. Chomping on ice cubes can actually cause your teeth to fracture, microscopically cracking your enamel. A cracked enamel can ultimately lead to larger dental problems over a period of time.
Along with ice, popcorn kernels and pits of fruits like peaches, are also harmful to your teeth when you suck or chew on them.
Sipping sounds harmless, but it’s not actually the sipping that is a bad dental habit, it’s what is being sipped. Super sugary and acidic drinks lead to faster tooth decay. Using a straw when sipping on these drinks can minimize your teeth’s exposure to all the sugar and acid.
Using Teeth as Tools
Dentists can verify that it is very common for people to use their teeth as tools—whether they’re tearing open a bag of chips, ripping a price tag off new clothing, or popping a bottle top. This is very damaging for your teeth. It weakens the tooth, which can eventually cause you to have a tooth chip or fracture. A simple fix to this bad habit is to use proper tools such as scissors or pliers to do the job, rather than your precious teeth.
Grinding Your Teeth
Grinding your teeth wears them down over time. Teeth grinding can be caused by a variety of things such as stress, anxiety and even an abnormal bite. The first step to a solution is to recognize that you grind your teeth if you do. You will then need to get a mouth guard, preferably from your dentist but also available over the counter. Also cut back on your caffeine intake, reduce/avoid alcohol intake, avoid chewing on anything that isn’t food, and put the tip of your tongue between your teeth when relaxing to help train your jaw to relax too.
Using a Hard-Bristled Toothbrush
Many people are under the impression that the firmer the toothbrush, the better. This is false, especially for adults. This is true primarily because as the teeth are exposed to harmful things over time (like rough brushing), the gums recede, and the roots are often exposed.
Using a hard-bristled toothbrush can irritate the gums and scrape away the enamel and cementum, which can lead to sensitivity. Ask your dentist what toothbrush is right for you and your teeth.
Not Brushing, Flossing, or Rinsing Properly
It is recommended that all people brush at least twice a day, floss daily, and rinse twice a day. Your toothbrush should be replaced every 3 to 4 months to maintain a healthy dental routine.
Flossing can be difficult for some people, but there are over-the-counter tools available to you to clean those hard to reach places in the back of your mouth. Antiseptic rinses also flush out the bad bacteria that causes gum disease and bad breath. Fluoride, which is in a lot of rinses, helps to prevent tooth decay.