Six Bad Habits That Can Affect Your Smile And Oral Health

Six Bad Habits That Can Affect Your Smile And Oral Health

Posted by All Smiles Family Dentistry Jan 17, 2023

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Our teeth are strong, but they can still become damaged over time. Habits like chewing on ice or biting your nails can cause chips, cracks, and breaks. Habits like smoking and using tobacco products can cause decay and stains. Here are some common habits that can damage your smile.

Nail Biting

Nails can harbor millions of bacteria that can cause infections in the gum tissue. These infections can cause pain, swelling, and redness of the gums. If you do not want to damage your teeth and gums by biting your nails, we can provide you with some helpful tips to stop this bad habit.

First, try to break the habit with positive reinforcement. For example, you can reward yourself for not biting your nails. You can also set up reminders on your phone that notify you multiple times per day not to bite your nails. Additionally, distraction techniques can be helpful in preventing you from biting your nails. Try to develop habits that occupy your hands to keep your mind off nail biting. Some good examples are playing video games or using your cell phone.

Using Teeth As Tools

Dentists usually see patients who use their teeth as tools due to stressful or frustrating situations. Using teeth as tools can cause broken and/or chipped teeth and loose fillings. These issues often require restorative dental treatment to fix. This could include replacing missing or broken tooth structures with a crown or bridge or even a full dental implant. In extreme cases, damaged teeth that are unable to be restored with conservative treatments may require extraction. If you’re in a situation where you have to use your teeth as a tool, try finding a safer alternative.

Consuming Sugary Drinks And Beverages

Sugary beverages such as sodas and energy drinks can be detrimental to your oral health. Every time you take a sip of that drink, you expose your teeth to sugar equal to about two teaspoons of sugar. When sugar mixes with the bacteria in your mouth, it turns into a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque sticks to the teeth, and over time the acid that forms in plaque eats away at the tooth enamel and causes cavities. Drinking sugary drinks over a long period of time is also bad for your waistline and other health issues, so it should be avoided whenever possible. If you just can’t eliminate sugary drinks from your diet, try to reduce their consumption and rinse your mouth with water after drinking to reduce the impact on your teeth.

Frequent Snacking

While snacking isn’t necessarily bad for you, eating too frequently can negatively affect your oral health. That’s because when your teeth are exposed to food for long periods of time, the acids found in that food can cause tooth enamel to erode. This can lead to tooth sensitivity and cavities. You can help mitigate this problem by sticking to healthy snacks like apples and raw vegetables. When you do decide to snack, it’s best to choose something healthy rather than sugary or starchy foods like potato chips. These foods stick to the teeth and encourage plaque buildup, which is harmful to your teeth and gums.

Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a natural reflex that babies use to self-soothe and fall asleep. However, when the child becomes a toddler and continues the habit after they have teeth, it can lead to bite problems as they get older. This behavior can lead to an open bite or overbite, which can cause problems biting into foods and even cause speech impediments. It can also impact the health of the teeth by weakening them due to the pressure of putting the thumb in the mouth for a prolonged period of time. Additionally, if a child has crooked front teeth or a misaligned jaw as a result of thumb sucking, orthodontic treatment may be necessary to correct the issue. As with other types of habits, it’s best to break this habit early on to avoid future issues. Aside from providing your child with other ways to soothe themselves, you can also discourage this behavior by pointing to the negative effects of thumb sucking.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding and clenching are some of the most common sleep disorders in the world. While more common in adults and adolescents, it can affect children too. It is also known as bruxism or nocturnal tooth-grinding syndrome. A nightguard can help protect your teeth from wear caused by teeth grinding and can help protect your teeth from the unnecessary damage that often occurs with frequent grinding. The nightguard is custom-made to fit over the upper teeth and is made from soft plastic that fits comfortably and prevents the teeth from touching. It may be worn to bed at night and is barely noticeable, so it won’t interfere with your nighttime routine. 

To learn more, please schedule an appointment online or call All Smiles Family Dentistry at (319) 553-3085 to have a consultation with Dr. Jennifer A. Stevenson or Dr. Sarah Cyr, and we will be happy to help.

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