Everyone knows that a pretty smile starts with good oral hygiene and regular dental care. What a lot of people don’t realize is that various common everyday behaviors can crack, damage, and erode teeth. Here are the top eight bad habits to avoid:
1. Brushing too hard
Brushing twice a day is a good thing, of course, but many people use a too-harsh brush or simply brush too hard. Over-enthusiastic brushing can damage the enamel and cause the gums to recede. Select a soft-bristled brush and be gentle.
2. Chewing on ice
Chewing on cold, hard ice cubes is a bad idea. Your chompers aren’t designed to crush hard materials, and habitual ice-chewers often end up with a fractured tooth or damaged dental work.
3. Using teeth as a tool
Many people use their mouth to open packages, pull tags off clothing, and other non-food-related behaviors. However, just like chewing ice, these behaviors can cause fractures and damage dental work. A tooth is not a tool.
4. Using the mouth to hold things
A lot of people absent-mindedly insert pens, pencils, eyeglasses, and other random objects into their mouth while they ponder. Most of these people end up biting down fairly hard on the object, which can displace or fracture a tooth and damage dental work.
5. Sucking on lemons
Some people enjoy the strong sour flavor of lemons. However, lemons are extremely acidic, and acid eats away at the enamel. Any acidic food or beverage should be swallowed as quickly as possible, not left sitting in the mouth. If possible, avoid acidic beverages such as soda completely.
When frustrated or angry, many people unconsciously clamp their jaws shut. The massive pressure that is generated during jaw-clamping can cause micro-fractures that over time can turn into a broken tooth.
7. Tooth grinding
Some people grind their jaws when stressed or anxious. Others habitually grind their jaws during sleep. Tooth-grinding cause excessive wear, erodes enamel, and can cause fractures. If you suspect you grind your jaw during sleep, talk to your dentist about getting fitted with an anti-grinding mouth guard.
8. Eating candy
Sugar is the number-one cause of tooth decay. Avoiding candy is part of good dental care. Soft chewy candy tends to get stuck in the crevices in the molars, exposing the teeth to sugar for hours. Hard candy may be even worse- some people slowly suck on the candy, flooding the mouth with sugar for a prolonged period of time. Chewing on hard candy can cause fractures and damage dental work.