Everybody wants to beat their bad habits for a better quality of life. Some bad habits have several unknown side effects. You’ll be surprised to learn that some classic bad habits, like nail biting and snacking, have a profound negative effect on your oral health.
Here’s what you need to know about how some bad habits affect your teeth. Knowing the potential for damage can give you another reason to give up a bad habit for good.
Chewing Your Nails
This is bad habit for more reasons that just your dental health, but your teeth can be a motivating reason to quit. Biting your nails continually can have these negative oral side effects:
- Your teeth can get chipped. Your nail is not strong enough to chip your teeth, but your other teeth are. When biting through a nail, your teeth can strike together forcefully. Each strike weakens your enamel, and you could end up chipping your tooth. You may even need a filling to repair the damage.
- It increases the risk of tooth loss. The pressure from continued biting can contribute to shortened roots, especially if your teeth are already stressed with orthodontics.
- Nail biting can lead to bruxism. Bruxism, or tooth grinding, comes from the same mechanism of clenching and biting to relieve stress. Nail biters, especially those who do it as a method for coping with anxiety, are more liking to grind their teeth. More healthful stress relieving activities will help with this problem.
- You have an increased risk of infection. Your nails become jagged and sharp from the ragged edge your tooth leaves after biting. A slip of your finger can cut the gums, introducing the bacteria under your nails to your gum tissue. A painful abscess can result.
Talk to your dentist about ways to break your (or your child’s) nail-biting habit to save yourself from years of pain and stress to your teeth down the road.
Chewing on ice can cause injury to your teeth and gums. Ice is hard enough to break your teeth! Many people love the tough crunch of ice, especially in the summer. If you need a cold crunch, try a carrot instead of ice.
If you can’t shake the habit of chewing ice, you may want to talk to your doctor. Sometimes, craving ice can be a sign of dangerously low iron levels.
Using Your Teeth as Tools
People use their teeth for things other than chewing food on a daily basis; you’ve probably used your teeth to tear open mail, open pop cans, or bite on tape. Some people also use their teeth to pry open seafood shells, bite on wire, hold pins, or crack open nuts.
All of these actions are harmful to your teeth. Nuts have a rough exterior, and every time you use your teeth to open one, the rough exterior sands away some of your enamel. Holding pins with your teeth can actually leave indentations after years of sewing. Opening pop cans and ripping tape can actually misalign your jaw or break your teeth.
If you have a bad habit of using your teeth as tools, invest in a keychain-style multi-tool to take with you wherever you go. That way, you have a small knife to help you with packaging and clam shells.
Snacking Throughout the Day
Most people think that by brushing and flossing daily, they are completely safe from tooth decay. However, persistent snacking all day long can speed the development of dental caries. You might have thought cutting out snacks would help with weight loss or mindfulness, but minimizing your snacking will also protect your teeth.
Every time you eat, residual sugars from the foods you consume remain in your mouth. Bacteria in your mouth feed on these sugars and produce acid as they metabolize it. The acid is what causes your teeth to demineralize.
If you eat enough at meal times, your teeth are only exposed to this acidic process a few times per day. If you are careful to brush after meals (at least after breakfast and dinner), your teeth stay mostly clean all day long. Snacking ruins the beauty of this process. Instead, the benefits of mealtimes and brushing schedules are quickly washed away by the continual wash of sugar in the mouth.
If you must snack, choose tooth-friendly options like vegetables, cheese, or unsweetened yogurt. Avoid common snack foods like crackers, breads, candy, dry cereal, or baked goods. Even if crackers have no sugar added, the enzymes in your saliva will break down the carbohydrates into simpler sugars as you chew.
For more information on how daily habits can help or hurt the health of your teeth, contact Apollo Dental Center. We can help patients of all ages replace the bad habits with good ones that will lead to long-lasting oral health.