New Years Resolutions – 6 Habits that Harm Your Teeth
Well, 2015 is a wrap! Thanks for being a continued part of our Orono Dental Care family. We appreciate each and every one of you and look forward to seeing you in the coming year!
With the new year, many people set goals to improve their health and fitness. If you are still searching for a goal, consider whether you suffer from any of the habits below.
1. Nail Biting
- Why it’s bad: It can chip your teeth and hurt your jaw.
- How to quit: Consider a bitter tasting nail polish, stress reduction, or wearing gloves to prevent nail biting.
2. Brushing too hard
- Why it’s bad: Brushing too hard or with too hard of a toothbrush can cause excessive tooth wear that leads to loss of enamel, tooth sensitivity, and gum irritation.
- What to do: Brush with a soft bristle toothbrush or power-toothbrush with an indicator light to alert you to too much pressure. Also, think of brushing as “massaging” your gums and teeth instead of scrubbing them. Hint: Hold your toothbrush with a 3 finger pen grasp – you shouldn’t be putting any more pressure on your teeth than you can in that position.
3. Grinding and Clenching
- Why it’s bad: Tooth chipping/breakage, jaw muscle and joint pain, limited range of jaw motion.
- What to do: Consider when you clench and grind your teeth. If it is during the day, simply having an awareness of the problem and a commitment to stopping may do the trick. If you are doing these activities at night while you are sleeping, oral appliance therapy may be a necessary option. We can custom make your night guard or you can buy a non-custom guard at your local drugstore.
4. Chewing Ice
- Why it’s bad: Ice chewing can break teeth or fillings – sometimes to the point where a full coverage crown is needed to replace the missing tooth structure.
- What to do: Investigate what triggers the ice chewing habit. Are you low in minerals like iron? Some iron-deficient individuals suffer from pica, a tendency to chew substances with no nutritional value such as ice, dirt/soil, and paper. Regardless of the cause, limit your exposure to ice if you are going to be tempted to chew. Remember, you only get one set of teeth!
5. Constant Snacking
- Why it’s bad: Besides the obvious spikes in consumed daily calories, frequent snacking is harmful to your teeth because it leaves you at higher risk for cavities. Every time you eat a carbohydrate or acidic food, the enamel on your teeth is exposed to an acidic environment until your saliva is able to wash away the food particles and the bacteria in your mouth have finished their “snack.” This usually takes about 30 minutes. So consider this, every time you eat, your enamel (hard outer tooth covering) gets softer for about 30 minutes.
- What to do: Of course, there are ways to help combat this like good brushing and flossing and regular exposure to minerals fluoride, calcium and phosphate but the best solution is to minimize snacking between meals. When you do snack, choose foods that are low in carbohydrates, sugar and are not very acidic. What are some options? One of the best snack foods for your teeth is CHEESE! Other healthy snacks are vegetables, meats, and other foods that will not get stuck in the grooves or between your teeth. Lastly, after every snack make sure to rinse your mouth with water. This will help to wash away as much food as possible, leaving less work for your saliva and less fuel for the pesky bacteria in your mouth.
6. Using Your Teeth As Tools
Why it’s bad: You can break off pieces of your teeth! Just like nail biting and ice chewing, using your teeth as tools weakens them and makes them much more prone to breakage. In severe cases, full coverage crown therapy is necessary.
What to do: Avoid this costly procedure by using ACTUAL tools, not your teeth!