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5 Bad Habits That Can Hurt Your Teeth

When we talk about dental care, we often focus on two areas: eating right, and brushing regularly. Of course, these are two critical components towards ensuring your teeth last for your whole life, and you can keep showing off your beautiful, healthy smile for years to come.

But you may have some habits that are hurting your teeth, and you didn’t even know! Here are 5 bad habits that might be damaging your teeth.

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1) Teeth grinding 

Grinding your teeth – also known as bruxism – is an extremely common habit among children and adults. Many people grind their teeth as a way of handling stress, or perhaps while they are thinking. Others do it unintentionally in their sleep. You may even be grinding your teeth without ever realizing you are doing it! 

Grinding, clenching, or gnashing your teeth can lead to enamel breakdown, as well as chipping or cracking of the teeth. It can also cause unpleasant headaches, jaw pain, and tooth sensitivity. 

If you’re grinding your teeth, or suspect you might be while you sleep, consult a dentist. They may prescribe you with a special mouthguard for night use, as well as tips for managing stress that keep you from grinding your teeth, and damaging them in the process!

2) Drug use

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Using drugs recreationally has many ill effects on your overall health. Teeth are no exception: drug abuse can take a very serious toll on your mouth health. The acidic content in drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines create plaque on teeth and wear down the enamel.

Taking drugs orally can lead to “dry mouth”, which depletes the mouth of saliva and allows more bacteria to breed, also leading to tooth decay. And the addictive effects of drugs can cause users to neglect oral hygiene, as well as pique a craving for sugar, both of which can lead to serious dental neglect and tooth decay. 

There are many reasons to avoid illegal drugs. But the health of your mouth and the longevity of your teeth are one huge reason to stay healthy and avoid drugs!

3) Smoking

Many people associate smoking only with the health of your lungs. But smoking adversely affects your teeth and your mouth, too! 

Smoking has a host of negative effects on your teeth, including yellowing of the enamel, bad breath, and a higher risk of gum and periodontal disease and oral cancers. The tobacco contains many bacteria that build up plaque and tartar on your teeth, which lead to tooth decay. Smoking can also inflame your salivary glands on the roof of your mouth. 

Gum disease is a painful condition that often requires invasive oral surgery to treat. It can weaken the attachment between your bones and soft tissue, making the mouth more susceptible to oral infections. 

To avoid painful gum disease, discoloration, bad breath, and a higher risk of cancers, don’t smoke! There are many reasons to quit smoking, but if you want your teeth to last a lifetime, consider them one great reason to say no to tobacco! 

4) Biting your nails 

Though it seems like a harmless habit, nail-biting can actually be extremely bad for your teeth. When you bite through your nails, your teeth can often land together extremely hard, which can chip or crack your teeth. And the scratching of your nails against your teeth can damage the enamel, leading to further tooth decay. Chronic nail biting can also displace teeth, especially in younger children whose teeth are still growing. 

Finally, putting your hands in your mouth is a sure way to introduce even more unwanted bacteria near your teeth, gums, and tongue! Bacteria stays on your teeth, leading to tooth decay, or potentially gum infections like gingivitis. Bacteria is everywhere, so the best way to keep it from entering your body is to get those hands out of your mouth! 

If you or your child is struggling with nail biting, try a handheld distraction like silly putty or a pair of dice to keep hands otherwise engaged. You can also try a non-toxic but bitter-tasting clear nail polish that makes nails taste bad and discourages biting. If problems persist, see your dentist about other treatment ideas!

5) Crunching ice

There are some myths about why people chew ice – we can’t confirm or deny the truth behind these myths, but we can tell you that chewing on ice is definitely bad for your teeth, and that’s a fact! Even though it’s made of water, frozen ice is extremely hard and is a bad surface to break against your teeth! 

The tips of your teeth are the most sensitive, so it’s important to be gentle with them. When you bite into a hard piece of ice, you’re putting extreme pressure on the tips of your teeth, which can lead to chipping or cracking. 

Here’s a myth-free tip: put the ice in your glass, not your mouth! 

Avoid Bad Habits, Protect Your Great Teeth!

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In sum, certain bad habits can lead to bad tooth problems.  Avoid these habits, and help yourself protect your teeth for life! Remember to eat well, avoid sugar, and brush and floss regularly.

See a dentist regularly, and if your teeth are misaligned, get orthodontic care to straighten them and keep your smile performing at its very best!