The simplest of bad dental habits can have a profound effect on teeth and overall jaw functioning. Some bad habits can easily be spotted at checkups and cleanings by a dentist. Patients can take steps to rid themselves of these harmful behaviors for better dental checkups and a better, healthier smile.
- Oral hygiene habits: Insufficient or inefficient flossing, brushing teeth too hard, or simply not brushing correctly and at least twice a day can all contribute to increased bacteria in the mouth, more prominent staining of teeth, and inflammation or irritation of the gums, as well as risk of damage to enamel and increased risk of cavities. It is equally important to maintain regular dental checkups and cleanings.
- Too much sugar and/or acidic foods and beverages: Soft drinks, sodas, sports drinks, juice, coffee, tea, and almost any beverage that isn’t pure water can be quite acidic and acid weakens tooth enamel leaving teeth more susceptible to bacteria and dental decay. Diet beverages are just as acidic, if not more depending on the type of sweetener used instead of sugar.
- Chewing ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candy: Chewing on hard candy and popcorn kernels can put tremendous pressure on teeth, especially teeth with large fillings. Chewing on ice also puts pressure on teeth, but with the added factor of extreme cold that increases risk of damage.
- Chewing on anything that isn’t food: Chewing on non-food items such as paper, pens, pencils, paperclips, toothpicks, and other items increases risk of damage to teeth as well as the added risk of transferring bacteria from the object. Nails are not food and underneath the nails live a variety of bacteria that should not enter the mouth.
- Grinding or clenching teeth: As with chewing on non-food or hard items, grinding or clenching teeth puts undue pressure on the teeth. A lot of grinding and clenching behaviors occur subconsciously such as during sleep, and in such cases a night guard can be worn to reduce damage.
- Improper use of teeth: Using teeth for anything but their natural intended use (i.e. chewing and speaking) should be considered bad. Teeth are not meant to be used as tools to open bottles, break plastic wrapping or tear open packages, and teeth are not meant to hold items such as flashlights, pens, or other items.
As with most habits, a minimum of 28 days is usually required to break the habitual behavior or to form a good, healthy habit. Contact the office of Dr. Owen C. Mandanas at 907-276-5522 today for more information about good and bad dental habits and making positive changes for a healthier smile.