You could be damaging your teeth without even knowing it! Your bad habits might just be prompting cavities, oral infections and even costly dental repairs. Unfortunately, many people don’t even realize the seriousness of their bad habits until it’s too late.
Here are 5 bad dental habits that are harming your oral health:
Tooth Grinding and Jaw Clenching
Grinding your teeth or excessively clenching your jaw can pose a wide range of problems when it comes to your oral health. This bad habit, also known as bruxism, can chip tooth enamel, cause severe facial or jaw pain, incite tension-type headaches and can even result in broken or fractured teeth that require crowns or replacements with dental implants. Most often, grinding teeth or jaw clenching is caused by stress or by sleep disordered breathing.
All too often, people who grind their teeth don’t even know they’re doing it as tooth grinding often happens while asleep!
So how can you know if you’re grinding your teeth? Some symptoms include:
- Loose teeth
- A sore, tired jaw
- Neck aches, earaches and headaches
- A clicking sound when you open and close your mouth
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best you see your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will work with you to find ways to minimize your tooth grinding. This could include a bite adjustment or recommending a night guard made to fit over your teeth to help prevent damage caused by grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw while you sleep.
If you find yourself clenching your teeth during the day, this is a habit you can control! Make a conscious effort to keep your teeth slightly apart while your jaw is relaxed and/or practice meditation to alleviate stress.
You already know nail biting is a bad nervous habit; it can cause severe damage to both you nails and your cuticles – but did you realize nail biting is even harmful to your teeth! Biting your nails can cause your teeth to shift out of place, become misshapen, and even weaken them over time.
The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that frequent nail biters may rack up $4,000 in additional dental bills over the course of their lifetime
Thumb sucking at a young age, particularly before children begin teething, is a natural habit and will not harm your child’s teeth. However, after the age of five or six, when permanent teeth begin to come in, thumb sucking can cause lasting changes to booth tooth and jaw structure.
Prolonged thumb sucking can cause crooked teeth, overcrowding, or a bite that doesn’t fit together properly.
If your child has permanent teeth and continues to suck his or her thumb, it’s time you find a way to put an end to this bad habit. If you child continues this habit after the age of five or six, make an appointment with your family dentist so he or she can explain the effects thumb sucking has on their oral health and the future appearance of their smile.
Neglecting to Floss
I’m sure you hear it from your dentist all the time, but it’s very important that you remember to floss! Flossing plays a vital role in dental health. While a toothbrush is efficient at cleaning the tops and outer surfaces of the teeth and gums, floss is designed specifically to clean the tight spaces between the teeth in areas that your toothbrush can’t reach.
The places where the gums and teeth meet are where flossing plays its major role. Tiny particles of food can get lodged here, and plaque in this area will harden and accrete over time to form tartar, a thick deposit that only the dentist can remove with a scraper. Tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis: red, swollen gums that are the first stage of gum disease. If left unchecked, the bacteria-laden tartar and plaque can spread even deeper below the gum line, causing periodontitis: severe gum disease characterized by severe inflammation and eventual tooth and bone loss [source].
Flossing at least three times a week will keep your gums strong and healthy!
Brushing Too Hard
Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day is one of the best habits you can get into… but watch out for too much of a good thing!
Brushing too hard, or with the wrong toothbrush won’t only irritate your gums – it can also damage your teeth! Brushing too vigorously can wear down tooth enamel, harm your gums, make your teeth sensitive to cold and can even cause cavities. So don’t go to town on your teeth! Many people believe that brushing harder is better – but that’s nowhere near the truth. Plaque is soft and loose so there’s no need to scrub. To fix this, replace the word “toothbrush” with “tooth massage”. When you are “brushing” your teeth, you should actually be “massaging” your teeth with your brush to work off all that clingy tartar.
Moreover, ensure you are brushing with a soft-bristle brush. Bristles should be able to bend easily to reach under the gum. Hard-bristle brushes can be dangerous as they can wear down the structure of your tooth.
Do you have any of these oral health harming habits? If you can change your ways, you’ll give your dental health a huge boost!
If you’re worried you have one or more of these bad habits – we can help you break them! To learn more about breaking these habits, visit Century Stone Dental for a consultation, or contact us at (905)-545-4833.
No matter your age, dental condition, and if you have a million questions, Dr. Sims can assist you or your young children in a professional manner and loves answering any of your questions or concerns.
Dr. Sims grew up in Grimsby playing basketball, so he’s always up for talking about the Raptors! He’s also a football fan - go Buffalo Bills! In his free time, if he’s not watching a basketball game or football game, you’ll likely find him working out, cooking (got any new recipe ideas?), and of course, spending time with his amazing family.