Top 10 Bad Dental Health Habits

You know how to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and taking care of your mouth is an important part of your daily routine. You should brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day, and see your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checks. Taking good care of your mouth is the best way to keep your teeth in good shape, but you should also avoid habits or activities that can hurt your teeth. Find out more about habits that can chip, crack, or hurt your teeth in other ways.

Nail Biting

When you’re nervous, a lot of people bite their nails. The Cleveland Clinic says that up to 30% of Americans bite their nails all the time and have trouble stopping on their own.

There are a few ways that biting your nails can hurt your mouth. When you bite down hard on a nail, you might change the way your jaw is set or chip a tooth because the nail is so hard. When you bite your nails all the time, it can hurt your mouth and jaw and make your lower jaw stick out.

What can you do if you bite your nails? How often you bite them and how bad the problem is will determine what to do. Some people wear bitter-tasting nail polish to stop themselves from biting their nails.

If you bite your nails all the time or if it goes along with something else, like anxiety or ADD/ADHD, you might want to work with a therapist to come up with a plan to stop. A counselor could help you stop biting by using behavioral therapy or ways to calm down.

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Chewing on Ice

On a hot summer day, it might seem like a good idea to chew on an ice cube to cool off. But is it bad for your teeth to eat ice? Ice is hard, and the force of chewing on it can cause cracks in the enamel of your teeth, which can be bad for your teeth.

If you like to chew on ice to stay cool, you might want to try something else. You can cool down by spraying yourself with a fine mist or drinking cold water. Don’t put ice in your drinks if you don’t want to chew as much after you drink. You can also avoid getting ice in your mouth if you use a straw.

People with low iron levels can sometimes get pica, which is a craving for things that aren’t food, like ice. If you have a strong urge to chew ice, you might want to talk to your doctor or dentist about checking your iron levels.

Using Your Teeth as Tools

Your teeth are not like knives or scissors, and you shouldn’t use them when your hands are full. Only chewing and tearing food should be done with your teeth. You could crack or chip your teeth if you use them often to pull tags off clothes, open packages, or hold keys or mail as you walk in the door. You also risk hurting your jaw because the force of tearing or pressing on the teeth can cause damage to the jaw.

If you like to hold things in your mouth, you could accidentally swallow them. The items could also give you germs in your mouth, which could spread to the rest of your body and make you sicker.

Using the right tool for the job is always a good idea. Get a pair of scissors when you need to cut a tag off a shirt or open a package. Use a tool made to safely remove the cap from a bottle if you need to open one. Having these tools on hand will keep you from having to use your teeth to open things.

There are a few ways to stop putting things in your mouth, which isn’t very clean. You could get a bigger bag that can fit everything you need. You can also wear clothes with pockets so you can quickly hide your keys when you open the door. If you’re with someone else, you can always ask them to help you carry things if you don’t have enough hands.

Not Wearing a Mouthguard

When training for a sport, you should always wear a mouthguard. This is true whether you are a weekend warrior or an Olympian in training. If an athlete doesn’t wear a mouthguard, they are 60 times more likely to hurt their teeth, break their jaw, or have a tooth knocked out.

Sports like hockey and football, where there is a lot of contact and collision, are more likely to cause dental injuries. But contact-free sports like gymnastics, swimming, and dance also pose serious health risks. Because of this, it is smart to wear a mouth guard during any sport to protect your teeth, gums, and jaw.

You can get a mouthguard in a few different ways. Some can be bought over the counter and are made to fit everyone. Some are “boil-and-bite,” which means that you can shape them to fit your mouth after heating them. The best mouthguards are made just for you by your dentist and fit perfectly in your mouth. When you’re on the field, in the pool, or on the dance floor, you’re less likely to get hurt if you wear a mouthguard that is made just for your teeth.

Getting Oral Piercings

Some people pierce their lips or tongues to make themselves stand out. Even though piercings can be a good way to express yourself, piercings in or around your mouth are very dangerous. Some of the risks of oral piercings are:

  • If you bite down on them by accident, they can chip the enamel on your teeth.
  • Putting your teeth at risk, which can lead to cracks or other damage.
  • You could hurt yourself by scraping your gums.
  • Increase the chance of getting an infection, which can sometimes be very bad.

If you like piercings, think about getting them on other parts of your body, not in or near your mouth. This is better for your oral health. Before you decide to pierce something, give it some thought. If you get a piercing, you’ll need to take care of the area and keep it clean to avoid getting an infection. If your tongue or lip is already pierced, talk to your dentist about the best way to take care of it while still keeping your mouth healthy.

Grinding Your Teeth

People grind their teeth for many different reasons, like being stressed or having a bad bite. Many people grind their teeth while they sleep without even realizing it.

Teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism, does a lot of damage to the teeth. It can wear away the enamel over time, which can cause the teeth to break or chip. Teeth grinding can also cause headaches and pain in the jaw.

If you know or think you grind your teeth, you can protect your mouth by getting a nightguard from your dentist to wear while you sleep. The guard will act as a cushion between your top and bottom rows of teeth, reducing the pressure on them so you can sleep better.

You can also learn how to relax. This will make your body less tense and make it less likely that you will grind or clench your teeth. Getting more exercise, learning how to control your breathing, and practicing meditation can all help you feel less stressed. Your dentist may also suggest that you take a muscle relaxer before bed to help your jaw loosen up.

Eating Sugary and Starchy Foods

Your diet plays a big role in how healthy your teeth, gums, and mouth are as a whole. Tooth decay can happen more often if you eat foods that are high in sugar and starches, like candy and potato chips. You are also more likely to get gingivitis and periodontitis if you drink sugary drinks.

When you eat or drink something sweet or starchy, the bacteria in your mouth and on your teeth eat any bits of food or drink that is left behind. As they eat, they make acids that break down the enamel on your teeth. How healthy your teeth are can depend on what you eat and how often you eat. If you graze all day, bacteria have more chances to make acids that wear down your tooth enamel.

To keep your teeth from getting cavities, try to limit how much sugary or starchy food you eat. Always brush your teeth after eating to get rid of any leftover food. If you can’t brush your teeth right away, you could rinse your mouth with water. Also, it’s best to only eat and drink during meals so that bacteria don’t have too many chances to hurt your teeth.

Chewing on Pencils

If you tend to put a pencil or pen in your mouth when you are nervous or thinking, it is good for your teeth and mouth to stop doing this. Like chewing on ice, chewing on pencils puts a lot of pressure on your teeth, which can cause them to crack or chip. When you chew on a pencil or pen, there is also a chance that you will spread bacteria or other germs in your mouth.

You can stop chewing by doing a few different things. Don’t chew a pencil; chew sugar-free gum instead. You could also write yourself a note that says something like, “Don’t put your pencil in your mouth” or “Stop chewing!” Put the note near where you tend to chew, like at your desk or on the screen of your laptop. It will remind you to check and take the pen or pencil out of your mouth every time you see it.

Brushing Too Hard

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. But you can have too much of a good thing, as some people do when they brush too hard. If you brush your teeth too hard, the enamel can wear away and the gums can shrink, which makes your teeth more sensitive.

To keep your teeth in the best shape possible, brush with a light, gentle touch. If you’re not sure if you’re using too much force, ask your dentist the next time you go to the dentist. Your dentist can look at your mouth, tell you what they think, and show you how to brush your teeth properly for the best results.

Switching the type of bristles on your toothbrush is another thing you can try. Look for a brush with soft bristles instead of ones that are medium or hard, especially if you brush with a lot of force.


Here’s one more reason to stop smoking and using other tobacco products: One of the worst things you can do for your teeth and gums is to smoke. If you smoke, your body has to work harder to fight off infections, which makes you more likely to get gum disease. Also, smoking slows down the healing process, so it will take you longer to get better from gum disease and other problems with your oral health. Cigarettes also make your teeth look yellow because they stain them. Cigarette smoke can also make your breath smell bad.

There are many ways to help you quit if you are ready to do so. Talk to your dentist about programs to help you stop smoking. You can fight the urge to smoke by using a nicotine patch or gum. Getting a “quit buddy” can also help. You can help each other quit smoking and hold each other accountable by supporting each other along the way.

Dr. Motiwala in International Press

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