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6 Habits You Didn’t Realize Were Harming Your Teeth

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Life can get busy. And as the minutes and days and activities and events pass by, bad habits can start to form as we fall into our routines – sometimes before we are even aware of them. Let’s dive into some of the most common tooth-related negative habits, so you can avoid these pitfalls and keep your teeth strong and healthy.

avoid these negative dental habits

Chewing Ice

Chewing on ice weakens the enamel and surface areas of your teeth. Because ice is so hard, chewing on it repeatedly leads to uneven wear and tear, and long term will cause permanent chips and cracks in the teeth, which will damage the underlying tooth structure. Eventually, the cracks become large enough that you will require a trip to the dentist for repair. Ice isn’t the only culprit for this type of damage!

Habitually chewing on other hard items like pens, pencils, bobby pins, or paperclips can cause the same damage. If you need to break this habit, try keeping these items out of reach, substitute your chewing urge for sugarless gum, or avoid putting ice in your drinks while you learn to resist the urge (1, 2).

Using Your Teeth As ‘Tools’

Are you in the habit of using your teeth to crack open bottle caps, rip off clothing tags, hold heavy objects, or even as a replacement for scissors when trying to open those tough plastic bags? These and similar actions put traumatic pressure on the bones in the mouth, increasing your likelihood for weakened teeth, chips and cracks in the bone. Try to remember that teeth are there for eating (and smiling!); they are not meant to be used as a substitute for knives, scissors and hands (1,2).

Skipping Your Nighttime Brushing

Late nights out, bedtime snacks, or falling asleep in front of the television can all lead to one bad habit: skipping or forgetting your night time brushing routine. All the sugars and particles from the food and beverages you had since your last brushing session will be left to wreak havoc on your gums and enamel all night long. If you are guilty of this habit, try starting your bedtime rituals a little bit earlier – before you get too sleepy. Once you have brushed, don’t eat or drink anything else except water.

don't skip your night time brushing

Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks, especially soda, bathe your teeth in an acidic and sugary environment. This dangerous combination creates the perfect environment for erosion, bacteria growth and decay. Sodas aren’t the only culprit, however. Fruit juices, sports drinks, and alcoholic beverages, especially mixed drinks, can contain surprising amounts of sugar and acids as well. Cut back your sugary drinks to a minimal number – or avoid them all together – and when you do indulge, drink through a straw and rinse your mouth with plain water in between drinks until you can get home and brush (1,2).

Playing Sports Without A Mouth Guard

According to the American Dental Association, an estimated 5 million teeth are knocked out every year during sports activities and competitions. Mouth guards successfully prevent approximately 200,000 sports-related mouth injuries each year. How many more could be prevented if participants were more diligent about wearing mouth guards? Rough play during high impact sports can occur at any time. Mouth guards are recommended for the following sports: basketball, football, lacrosse, water polo, hockey, softball, skateboarding, rugby, mixed martial arts and soccer. The guard helps cushion rapid or hard blows to the teeth and jaw, lessening your risk for soft tissue injury or tooth loss (2).

avoid tooth loss with mouth guard use

Smoking

If you still smoke or chew tobacco, here’s another petition for you to find a way to quit. Nicotine yellows your teeth and can contribute to or cause oral cancers. Tobacco products also dry out your mouth and increase the amount of plaque buildup around your teeth. Smokers have a higher risk of gum disease and tooth loss because of these changes in the conditions of the oral cavity. If you have questions about quitting, discuss them with Dr. Hagen at your next appointment (1,2).

Give Us A Call at Hagen Dental Practice

Need help or advice on how to kick any of these habits, or ensure you don’t have damage already? Call us at (513) 251-5500 to learn more about your dental needs and how to develop positive oral habits!

Sources

  1. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/your-teeth-bad-habits#1
  2. http://www.onhealth.com/content/1/protect_teeth_dental_health