Seven bad habits you should stop to protect your teeth, according to your dentist

As reported by The Business Insider.

Schematic (Photo credit: AmrThele/Pixabay/public domain CC0)

Bad habits such as biting ice, grinding teeth and biting nails can all cause tooth breakage.
Not using a straw or over-brushing can wear down tooth enamel.
Try to talk to your dentist about any bad habits you think of that could harm your teeth and correct them.
Maintaining good oral hygiene means more than preventing tooth decay and brushing twice a day. It’s about protecting tooth enamel, caring for your gums and reducing bacteria build-up. Here are seven bad habits that can harm your teeth and solutions to correct them.

Chewing ice cubes

Chewing ice can cause teeth to crack and chip.

The damage is irreversible and, depending on the severity of the crack, may require a composite filling, crown, root canal or complete loss of the tooth, says Michaela Tozzi, a dentist in Henderson, Nev.

I had to pull the patient’s otherwise healthy tooth because he chewed ice and cracked it completely in half,” Tozzi said.

Many people chew ice in order to crunch it, but it is a harmful habit and instead of chewing ice, Tozzi said.

Use a straw to drink a drink to resist the temptation to chew ice.
Eat crunchy foods like apples, carrots or popcorn for a snack.
Chewing sugar-free gum to replace the oral adjustment of chewing ice.

Brushing is one of the most important ways to keep your mouth healthy, but over-brushing can harm your teeth and gums, Toews said.

Over-brushing can wear down the protective layer called enamel and lead to increased sensitivity and pain.

Brushing hard can also cause the gums to recede or push back from the teeth. This can leave the roots of the teeth exposed, which can also cause sensitivity and increase the risk of infection.

While veneers can help by protecting the tooth’s surface, they cannot restore lost enamel or gum recession, Toews said.

Medical term: Veneers are made of ceramic or resin and are placed over the tooth to improve its appearance and protect it from damage. Your dentist can determine if you need them.

Tozzi recommends the following tips to reduce damage caused by over-exerting brushing.

Use an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor that beeps if pressed down hard.

Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Teeth grinding

Many people grind their teeth in their sleep without realizing they are doing it, says Alice Boghosian, DDS, a Park Ridge, Illinois, dentist and spokeswoman for the American Dental Association.

Teeth grinding can wear down teeth and increase the risk of tooth decay and fractures. Signs that you may be grinding your teeth at night include

Waking up with a sore jaw or a slight headache.
Awareness of jaw clenching during the day.
Damage to the inside of your cheek, which may indicate that you’re biting in your sleep.
To minimize injury, wear a night guard, a device that fits over the teeth on one side of the jaw and provides a protective barrier between them, while you sleep, the Persians say. Talk to your dentist about how to accommodate.

Teeth grinding is also associated with stress, sometimes exacerbated by strenuous exercise like weight lifting, which can tighten your jaw.

To reduce teeth grinding, the Persians recommend

Practice relaxation techniques, like meditation or taking a hot bath before bed.
Wipe your face with a warm washcloth to relax your jaw and prevent muscle tightening.
Massaging the jaw to relax the muscles.
Bite your nails

Toots says nail biting can chip and break teeth, and these cracks can be fixed with composite bonding agents, which require resin to be placed in the cracks to repair them. However, if the habit continues, the composite bonding may also break and chip.

A manicure may help reduce the urge to chew nails, Toews said. Chewing sugar-free gum or mints can also help the mouth correct what needs to be chewed.

Eat without a straw

Persians say drinking beverages without straws can damage teeth, and sugary drinks like soda, lemonade and sugar-sweetened sports drinks are especially bad for teeth. Sugar in beverages can feed cavity-causing bacteria.

Other drinks that are harmful to teeth include.

Highly carbonated or acidic beverages, such as orange juice or lemonade. High levels of acid can eat away at your enamel, increasing your risk of tooth decay.
Wine and coffee can stain your teeth, making them look yellow or brown.
Using a straw can reduce the damage caused by drinking these beverages because it resets the liquid to the back of your mouth, away from your teeth, Toews says.

You can even carry a reusable straw with you, so there is always a straw available. Rinsing your mouth with water after drinking these beverages can also help flush out the sugar and acid.

Use your teeth as a tool

Using your teeth to open a yam piece or remove a pen cap can also damage and destroy your teeth.

Your teeth are meant to chew Food for proper digestion; they are not tools,” the Persian said.

If you need to open the package, use scissors, Toz said. If you don’t have scissors, you can use a (metal) spoon or nail clipper.


Smoking is not only harmful to overall health, but also to your teeth, the Persians say. Smokers are more likely to form plaque, which can cause gum disease. Smoking also reduces the blood flow to the gums, which prevents wounds in the mouth from healing.

In addition to increasing the risk of disease, smoking can lead to bad breath and dirty teeth, Toews said.

Talk to your doctor about how to quit smoking, as there are several treatment options, such as Chantix or nicotine patches. Other resources include.