Article at a Glance
- Be mindful of foods and drinks that can damage your teeth like sticky, sugary sweets, soda, and sports drinks.
- Nail biting can lead to chipped or broken teeth, damage enamel, and even irritate your gums.
- Use a mouthguard when playing contact sports to save your teeth from damage or being knocked out.
- Tobacco products stain teeth, cause gum disease, and can cause tooth decay.
- Stress can lead to grinding teeth, biting nails, and overindulging in bad foods, so it’s important to find other ways to offset stress.
You’re sitting in a meeting beside a coworker who is fishing ice cubes out of their take-out cup and chomping away. Across the room, another coworker is fidgeting and nibbling at their nails. Chewing on ice cubes and nail biting are often annoying, but they are also bad dental habits that can damage teeth and gums.
Watch What You Eat
Eating and drinking are crucial for our survival, but not all foods are created equal and some can do serious damage to your teeth. Starchy, sugary, and sticky foods and drinks are the worst things for your teeth. They leave behind residue that is difficult to remove from your teeth and can break down tooth enamel over time leading to tooth decay. How many of these foods are putting your teeth at risk?
- Hard candy is loaded with sugar and can chip or break your teeth.
- Citrus fruits are highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel over time.
- Potato chips and dried fruit should be enjoyed in moderation and followed up with proper brushing and flossing to prevent build up on and between teeth.
- Skip the sodas because they are acidic and loaded with sugar that can attack your tooth enamel.
- Sports drinks may help athletes recover from intense competitions, but they are often packed with sugar.
- Even though there’s no sugar or starch involved, eating ice can chip or break your teeth requiring expensive repairs.
Choose to enjoy these foods in moderation to limit the negative effects and try to eat as many good foods, like leafy greens, as possible. You can also incorporate these foods and drinks with meals instead of grazing all day and allowing the residue and bacteria to build up on your teeth.
Stop Biting Your Nails
Does nail biting damage your teeth? Yes, nail biting is a bad habit that can spread infection and damage your pearly whites. Because nails are one of the hardest surfaces on your body, biting them can chip or break teeth and damage tooth enamel. Frequent nail biters may notice their gums become irritated from the dirt and germs beneath their nails. In some cases, teeth may even shift out of place requiring braces to correct the problem.
Like most bad habits, nail biting can be overcome. Start by keeping your nails neatly trimmed and filed to avoid temptation of uneven edges. Figure out when you have the urge to gnaw on your nails and identify the stressor that causes it and address the issue. You can also recruit friends and family to remind you to stop when they notice.
Use a Mouthguard for Sports
Mouthguards may not be the most comfortable or fashionable, but they can save athletes a lot of pain. Wearing a mouthguard protects your teeth in the event you are hit in the mouth or face during a competition. Choosing a mouthguard that fits properly and allows you to breathe and speak is important to prevent tooth damage or loss.
Say No to Tobacco
Using tobacco can cause many problems with your body including your teeth. Aside from staining your teeth, tobacco use causes bad breath, puts you at greater risk for gum disease, and leads to tooth decay. Tobacco use, especially smokeless tobacco, also puts you at greater risk for oral cancer. If you are smoker, it’s important to quit and there are many supports in place to help you stop.
Stress has become a part of life, but it affects everything from your heart to your mouth. When people are under excessive stress, they can grind their teeth, bite their nails, binge on unhealthy foods and drinks, and may develop canker sores. Grinding teeth and biting nails can lead to chipped or broken teeth that require repair. Binging on bad foods and drinks exposes teeth to excessive amounts of sugars and acids that can damage tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay. Instead of resorting to these methods of handling stress, identify the source of your stress and work through it in a healthier way.
Tips for Healthier Teeth
Some bad dental habits may be tougher to quit than others, but there are many ways to improve the health of your teeth. Good oral care habits are the first step in fighting the effects of bad dental habits.
- Brush carefully and thoroughly for two minutes at least twice per day.
- Use the proper toothbrush for you and replace it every three months.
- Don’t forget the fluoride! Mouthwash, toothpaste, and even dental floss can contain fluoride.
- Floss daily to remove build-up between your teeth.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and fight bad breath.
- Visit your dentist every six months for a check-up and professional teeth cleaning.
If you need help breaking a bad habit or it’s time for a check-up, contact the Jefferson Dental Care clinic nearest youto make an appointment.