Are You Ruining Your Teeth with These Bad Habits?

Bad habits — we all have them, but some things you may be doing can be harmful to your teeth. Experienced cosmetic and general dentist, W. Garry Waldrop, DDS, and the team at Lifetime Dental Care know how damaging certain bad habits can be and often have to address the consequences of these habits in the dentist chair.

To protect your teeth and gums, Dr. Waldrop offers some insight into how the things you do consciously or unintentionally are affecting your oral health.

Bad habits that equal bad teeth

Some of the most common bad habits that impact the health of your gums and the stability of your teeth include:

Chomping on ice 

Crunching down on frozen bits of water may seem harmless enough, but in reality, ice is a crystal that, when forced against your enamel, can cause real damage.

In many cases, it’s the ice that breaks first. However, continually biting down on ice cubes can progressively damage your enamel and result in a chipped, cracked, or broken tooth. You may even lose a filling due to your ice-chewing habit.

Make a point to cool off in other ways. To help you resist the temptation, opt for cold beverages without any ice.

Compulsive nail biting

For many people, fingernail biting is an unconscious act. Nail biters tend to chew on their nails without thinking much about it, especially when anxious or nervous. Over time, continual nail biting puts stress on your teeth and can damage your enamel.

Nail biters often end up with cracks and chips in their teeth that can worsen over time. As a result of nail-biting, you can also interfere with the function of your jaw. The pressure can move it out of place and cause persistent discomfort or chronic pain.

To put an end to nail-biting, find other ways to relieve stress and tension. Carry a stress ball to squeeze to keep your hands occupied and out of your mouth. You can also apply a special polish to your nails that gives off a bitter taste. The polish creates more self-awareness about how often your fingers move to your mouth, and the bitter taste will keep you from biting.

Swiss Army teeth

If you’re using your teeth as scissors, a bottle opener, or other tool, you’re just asking for trouble. Not only are you at risk for cracking your teeth, but you can also injure your gums and move your jaw out of position, causing chronic jaw pain.

Pay more attention to what you do out of convenience. Before you put anything more than food or a toothbrush in your mouth, consider the long-term consequences. You can end up with cracked teeth and chronic mouth pain just by ripping open that bag of chips or biting off a piece of tape.

Jaw clenching and teeth grinding

There are a lot of people who develop chronic dental pain and tooth damage because of their tendency to keep their jaw clenched or grind their teeth. Unfortunately, those who clench and grind often don’t realize they’re doing it until the damage is already done. In many cases, this is because these actions occur at night when you’re fast asleep.

During a comprehensive dental exam, Dr. Waldrop can identify signs of tooth grinding or jaw clenching. He can recommend resources to help you stop grinding and clenching, such as practicing relaxation exercises during the day and becoming self-aware about how often you clench your jaw.

Dr. Waldrop can also get you fitted for a protective night guard that you wear over your teeth to minimize damage from nighttime teeth grinding. The night guard also protects the health and function of your jaw.

If you already have chipped teeth or jaw pain, don’t delay scheduling an evaluation with Dr. Waldrop by calling our office in Katy, Texas or requesting an appointment online today. Lifetime Dental Care serves the communities of Katy, Houston, Richmond, and the surrounding areas.

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