You may remember your parents telling you not to use your teeth to perform various tasks when you were a child. They often instilled some level of fear in our minds such that if we rebelled, there would be serious consequences. While this likely prevented a lot of dental injuries, we find that as adults, we tend to push those boundaries thinking that surely the things our parents warned us of as children can’t still do us harm. And initially, they don’t. So, we continue to use our teeth inappropriately, increasing the opportunity for damage to our teeth and gums; until one day you rip open the wrong package or hit at just the right angle or any number of other seemingly harmless habits that you’ve developed over the years goes sideways. With that in mind, read on to learn about the top 10 worst habits for your teeth and gums and how you can stop doing them to better protect your oral health.
#10 Biting Your Nails
Haven’t we all been told to stop biting our nails? Much like picking your nose, biting your nails ranks pretty high on the list for bad childhood habits. In fact, you’re likely biting your nails right now while reading this. That said, you may be surprised to learn that biting your nails is not only bad for your fingers, but bad for your oral health. During the course of a day, our fingers touch everything. While the pandemic has caused many of us to do a better job of washing or sanitizing our hands, that doesn’t mean that we still aren’t carrying a lot of bacteria on our fingertips. As such, if you have a small cut on the inside of your mouth, biting your nails may introduce bacteria into that space and cause an infection.
#9 Using Your Teeth as a Tool
Have you ever used your teeth to open a package when scissors weren’t available, or help you open a stubborn jar? You’re not alone. People often use their teeth as a tool rather than taking a moment to find the appropriate tool. While there’s no doubt that your teeth are strong and convenient , they were never intended to perform these tasks. In fact, ripping open packages or using your teeth to tackle various household tasks can cut your gums or break a tooth. Rather than spend your money on a cosmetic dental surprise, we find it better to stop this harmful behavior.
#8 Smoking or Chewing Tobacco
The effects of tobacco use on your overall health have long been known to cause health problems including a higher risk for developing lung cancer, breathing problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and more, but there are also a number of oral health concerns. So many in fact, that we’ll be following up this article with another piece on the oral health effects of tobacco.
In short, your teeth tend to wear down faster and cause damage to your mouth including reduced blood flow, increased bacteria and inflammation and increased risk for gum disease when you chew or smoke tobacco. Tobacco use also makes your body more susceptible to illness, including oral infections. We could go on and on. Therefore, if you’re a smoker (or chew), we heavily encourage you to quit one of the worst habits for your teeth and gums.
#7 Late Night Binge Eating
Occasional binge eating late at night won’t hurt anyone, but done too frequently and it can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. Why? Because too often, when you binge eat, you aren’t binging on healthy foods. You’re going for junk food and soda, then going to bed without brushing or flossing. Do this one too many times and you’ll have a mouth full of cavities among other health problems.
#6 Drinking Acidic Beverages
Your mama probably told you to drink a glass of orange juice if she felt like you might be getting sick, and she wasn’t wrong. However, drinking too many acidic beverages (including most fruit juices and soda) can lead to a number of dental problems including the deterioration of the enamel on your teeth. While it’s not necessary to stop drinking these drinks, be sure that you’re brushing your teeth or at least rinsing your mouth well with water to prevent that acid from coating your teeth for too long during the day.
We’ll pick up this conversation next week. Until then, if it’s been more than six months since you’ve seen the dentist, call Dr. Katherine E. Garrett and schedule your appointment. New patients are always welcome, and we are proud to provide dental care for your entire family. Don’t wait until you have a dental emergency, call our office today!