Bad Habits for Oral Health

Regularly brushing and flossing are necessary habits to keep your teeth and gums healthy. However, many people have other not-so-healthy habits that will negatively impact their long-term oral health.

Below is a list of the worst dental habits. If any of these habits are something that you do, we encourage you to find a way to break them once and for all! 

Bad Habits


  1. Biting Your Nails

Biting your nails can impact your jaw and chip your teeth.  Carrying your jaw in a protruding position for extended time periods can put pressure on it and lead to jaw dysfunction. Nail biters are also more likely to crack or chip a tooth when biting their nails. If you bite your nails and want to try to stop, apply bitter-tasting nail polish to the nails. Reducing stress can also help curb a nail biting habit. Try keeping something in your hands so your fingers stay busy during situations that trigger nail biting.

  1. Grinding and Clenching

Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth can crack or chip teeth, cause joint pain and muscle tenderness. Chewing or opening your mouth wide may become painful. If you are aware of your grinding and clenching, explore different relaxation exercises to alleviate stress on your mouth and jaw. You may also want to wear a nighttime mouth guard which can prevent additional tooth damage, reduce muscle soreness and pain, and aid in better sleep.

  1. Smoking

Smoking is very bad for your health. Not only can it cause multiple types of cancer, but tobacco products and cigarettes also stain your teeth, cause periodontal and gum disease, and leads to tooth decay (which can lead to lost teeth). Consult with your doctor about coming up with a plan to help you stop smoking or chewing tobacco, not only for your overall health, but for your oral health too. 

  1. Chewing on Ice, Pencils and Pens

You might not realize your chewing habit when you're in concentration mode, but chewing on things like the end of a pencil can chip or crack your teeth and irritate soft tissues. Chewing on ice is also very detrimental to the health of your teeth. Instead of chewing on ice or other things, try enjoying some sugar-free (xylitol) gum instead.

  1.  Brushing Too Hard

To maintain proper oral hygiene, you need to brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. However, if you brush too hard you can cause harm to your teeth by wearing down the enamel, causing teeth sensitivity, irritating gums and even causing cavities. When buying a new toothbrush we recommend getting one with soft bristles and make sure to check the packaging for the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal of Approval label, signifying that the toothbrush bristles are firm enough to get rid of plaque, but soft enough to avoid causing harm.

  1. Using Your Teeth as a Tool

Despite knowing that it's not a good idea, we've all used our teeth at one time or another to rip open packages, tear off clothing tags or unscrew bottle tops. Using your teeth as a tool, especially on bottle caps and other hard/tough materials, can crack them, chip them, or wear your teeth down unevenly leading to malocclusion (poor jaw alignment). You should use your teeth for three things only: eating, speaking and smiling! Don't threaten your dental health by using your teeth as a tool for anything else! 

  1. Constant Snacking

The risk of cavities increases the longer your teeth are exposed to the sugars/acids in foods and beverages. This means that the more often you consume sugary foods and beverages, the more exposure your teeth are getting to these substances that can harm them over time. Instead of constantly snacking, eat well-balanced meals to help you feel full longer. When you do snack, choose snacks that are low in sugar and fat. For the occasional sugary snack, wash the leftover food away with a big glass of water or brush your teeth soon after eating.

If you’re experiencing oral health issues which may require surgical attention, we encourage you to consult us here at Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.

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