It’s hard to forget your teeth. They’re looking back at you every time you practice your best smile in front of a mirror. But it’s easy to forget about the best practices for your teeth and gradually slip into bad dental habits. Here are descriptions of some of those bad teeth habits, together with tips on how to eradicate them, all derived from the American Dental Association (ADA).
1. Smoking is bad for your teeth
In fact, smoking is bad for every part of you. This should go without saying, but about 16% of American adults still smoke, so there’s apparently still a need for additional education about how smoking affects your overall health.
Smoking is automatic bad oral hygiene. It stains your teeth, can cause gum and periodontal disease, and can even result in premature permanent tooth loss. Smoking can reduce the production of saliva, and a dry mouth increases the risk of bad breath.
Don’t forget that tobacco products are the primary cause of most oral cancers. We hope not to offend anyone when we ask that, if you’re among those 39 million people who still smoke, please stop, if only for the sake of your dental health.
2. Nail Biting
Nail-biting is far preferable to smoking, but we’re not talking about an either/or situation. You can quit both.
Our nails are made out of a tough material known as keratin. It’s the same substance that rhinoceros’ horns and the tusks of elephants are made from. Chewing on keratin causes cracking, chipping, and/or erosion of your teeth.
Nail-biting also repositions your jaw at a misaligned angle. In order to give your teeth leverage on your nails, your lower jaw is pushed forward into an unnatural position. Given enough bites on enough nails, this jaw dysfunction can cause temporomandibular joint disorder, which is a chronically painful condition. And biting your nails can bring harmful bacteria into your system. So, wear vile-tasting nail polish or do whatever else it takes to stop biting those nails!
3. Chewing on foreign objects, such as pencils
The ability to use nothing but one’s incisors to bring a Dixon Ticonderoga #2 to a sharp and conical point is a magical talent, but one that is grossly underappreciated in today’s culture. Besides, chewing on a foreign object often results in an unconscious application of excessive force. This can damage teeth. These days, almost no one will look down on you for using a mechanical pencil sharpener.
4. Chewing Ice
Chewing ice is another skill that has become mechanized. Practically any new-ish refrigerator will deliver crushed ice. Even if there were still a demand for mouth-crushed ice, crunching an ice cube is pitting one hard object against another. It’s inevitable that sometimes your teeth are going to lose that contest. Just let it melt.
5. Playing sports without a mouthguard
You wouldn’t bicycle without a helmet, would you? Or box without gloves? Well, a well-thrown baseball, so-called “soft” ball, or even a basketball can cause the same sort of dental harm as a bicycle accident or a right-cross. Not to mention catching an opponent’s elbow with your jaw.
Wearing a mouthguard while participating in any sport with the possibility of contact is just smart.
6. Thumb sucking
If you’re one of the infants who suck their thumbs, tell your parents to gently discourage this habit. It can misalign your new teeth as they arrive, and it can even cause deformities in the roof of your mouth. If you have a serious attachment to the habit, one that keeps you from naturally outgrowing it, ask your parents to employ the aid of a child therapist.
If you’re an adult who sucks your thumb, invest in some bitter-tasting nail polish or switch to squeezing a stress ball instead of sticking things in your mouth.
7. Tongue piercings
Is it really a good look for you? Well, even if it is edgy, and your partner thinks it’s cute, it can be dangerous to your oral health. It’s surprisingly easy to bite down on the appliance, and chipped teeth are often the result.
8. Opening things with your teeth
Don’t use your teeth for opening packages, or your beer. We need to again emphasize that our teeth are meant for only two things: to chew food and facilitate our diction. They’re not meant to tear open parcels or to emulate your crazy uncle by using them to open an old-school beer bottle, one with a crimped metal cap. A cracked tooth is not a good look.
9. Teeth Grinding AKA Bruxism
Whether you are grinding by day, by night, or both, this habit will erode your teeth, and increase tooth sensitivity. There are a number of different causes for bruxism, including stress, anxiety, and missing or crooked teeth. Your dentist may suggest wearing a mouth guard if your grinding occurs mostly at night.
Custom-made guards cost more than over-the-counter versions, but they usually fit better and consequently work better. If stress and anxiety are the cause, counseling might be in order.
10. Brushing your teeth too hard, using a toothbrush that’s too hard, or both
As we age, our gums recede and our tooth enamel is worn away. This causes the soft tissue of our teeth to become exposed. This exposure increases vulnerability to erosion, gum disease, and tooth decay. That vulnerability can be further increased by using a toothbrush with rigid bristles and/or brushing too hard. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and, while you are brushing, think of a gentle massage, rather than sanding furniture for repainting.
11. Drinking beverages with sugar in them, including sports drinks
Maybe they taste better. Maybe not. What’s not in dispute is that drinking sugary drinks (and, more surprisingly, constant snacking on dried fruit) delivers sugar to the teeth, where it impacts oral health. The harmful bacteria in our mouths thrive on sugar, and that causes plaque to be produced more quickly. Plaque, in turn, turns into tartar, which causes tooth and gum decay if not promptly and properly removed. Just avoiding sugary foods and drinks prevents all this.
We’ve saved the standard tenets of dentistry, including tooth brushing and flossing, for last, because everyone knows that toothpicks can’t replace flossing. Brushing religiously and getting regular dental care, including checkups, are vital, and you can help keep your teeth healthy by using floss to dispose of leftover food particles.
Why MD Periodontics should be your Los Angeles periodontists
Two of the most trusted and respected periodontists and holistic dentists in Southern California comprise the board-certified husband and wife team of Dr. Abdy Moshrefi, DDS, and Dr. Nazanin Daneshmand, DDS.
At our beautiful Beverly Hills offices, MD Periodontics offers patients the best periodontic treatment that Los Angeles has to offer. Our holistic approach to dentistry ensures that the treatment you receive will utilize the least toxic materials available, the most advanced technology, and amenities including aromatherapy to minimize discomfort and stress during procedures. You’ll experience a supportive atmosphere you would never expect to find at a dental office and results that you will love.
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