Want Healthy Teeth? Avoid These 5 Habits
For Tulsa Dental Patients
We all have habits– some good, some bad. Often, bad habits are formed unintentionally.
Bad oral habits are especially dangerous because they can cause physical pain and can also cost a significant amount of money to correct.
To keep your teeth healthy (and to keep your teeth, period), it is essential to be proactive in the areas of oral hygiene, routine dental care, and adopting good oral habits.
Here are 5 habits to break or avoid if you want healthy teeth.
Hard and vigorous brushing is often associated with deeper cleaning– but this is not true for cleaning teeth.
Harsh brush strokes over time will leave your teeth in pain because rough brushing wears down tooth enamel and can irritate the gums, causing them to recede.
Receding gums expose the layer of dentin below, and this can be incredibly painful.
Instead, when brushing (at least twice a day for two minutes), use a soft-bristled brush, and gently brush the teeth. This will clean the teeth effectively without damaging them.
Many people who struggle with nail-biting want to break the habit so their nails will look and feel healthier, but your fingernails are not the only part of your body that suffers because of this bad habit.
Nail-biting can spread harmful bacteria to the mouth because a variety of nasty bacteria lives under fingernails.
Biting or chewing on anything non-edible, including fingernails, can crack, fracture, or chip your teeth. This habit can also cause jaw pain over time.
If you need help kicking this habit, some people find a bitter-tasting nail polish to be beneficial. Nail-biting is often a habit brought on by stress, so lowering stress levels and anxiety can also be helpful.
Chewing or chomping on ice is a common habit.
On a hot summer day, it can be tempting to crush some ice with our teeth, but they aren’t designed for this kind of work. Habitually chomping ice is especially problematic because it does lead to cracked and chipped teeth.
Teeth and ice are both crystals, and crystals rubbed together will cause damage. Chewing on ice can even damage fillings over time.
If chewing or chomping ice is a temptation, consider drinking your summer drinks through a straw. This will help you avoid accidentally crunching ice. Don’t start chewing on the straw instead of ice because that’s not good for your teeth either!! You can also skip ice entirely and choose to sip on refrigerated beverages.
Tooth Grinding or Jaw Clenching
Clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth is a habit called bruxism. It is often brought on by unrelieved stress.
Bruxism can happen while you’re awake, but it can also occur during sleep.
Bruxism over time will damage the teeth and jaw. It wears down the enamel on your teeth, making them more likely (and more vulnerable) to decay. The clenching can result in painful jaw pain and can also fracture or chip your teeth!
In the daytime, you can help curb this habit by practicing relaxation techniques to relieve jaw stress. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to control this habit at night, so wearing a custom dental mouth guard while you sleep can protect your teeth from damage.
Drinking or Smoking
Both alcohol consumption and tobacco use are detrimental to your dental health.
Drinking alcohol regularly increases plaque levels in your mouth. This will ultimately lead to tooth loss.
Alcohol consumption can also lead to reduced saliva flow, which can lead to dry mouth. This is important to note because saliva is necessary for clearing out debris and bacteria in the mouth.
Smoking damages the teeth in a few ways. Cosmetically, tobacco stains the teeth. Tobacco causes your salivary glands to become inflamed and function poorly.
Smoking increases the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth.
Smoking also contributes to bad breath, gum disease, oral cancer, and the loss of jaw bone density.
If regular consumption of alcohol is a habit of yours, consider limiting your alcohol intake and be sure to drink plenty of water in between alcoholic beverages. This will keep you hydrated and keep your salivary glands functioning well.
If smoking is a habit you want to break, ask your doctor about products designed to kick the habit. Consider finding a smoking cessation support program (in person or online!) that works for you.
Your teeth and gums (as well as your lungs!) will thank you!
Taking care of yourself and avoiding these five habits will give you a more beautiful smile, improve your teeth’s health, and preserve the longevity of your existing dental work. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, we’d love to hear from you at Tulsa Dental Center today!
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