15 Bad Dental Habits

It takes 21 days to break a habit (or so they say!) . We will be exploring some bad habits that are among the worst for your oral health. If any of these sound like you, vow to make some changes this month to improve your oral health and prevent future dental issues.

  1. Chewing ice: This can either chip or crack your teeth–when you get the urge to munch on something calorie-free, try some sugar-free gum instead.
  2. Cough drops: Similar to hard candy, cough drops prolong your mouth’s exposure to sugar, which increases the chance for bacteria, leading to cavities and decay. If you need to use a lozenge, be sure to brush afterward.
  3. Opening packages with your teeth: Take the extra time to find a pair of scissors. Opening things with with your teeth offers a huge risk for cracking or chipping.
  4. Potato Chips: The bacteria in your mouth turns starchy foods into acid, and potato chips also tend to get stuck in your teeth. Be sure to brush and floss especially well after snacking on starchy snacks.
  5. Chewing on pencils: This is probably self-explanatory, but chewing on pencils can also chip or crack your teeth.
  6. Drinking coffee: Coffee can cause major discoloration of your teeth, especially if you constantly sip it throughout the day. To minimize staining, finish your coffee quickly then brush afterward.
  7. Smoking: Cigarettes stain your teeth and cause them to fall out from gum disease.
  8. Red wine: The acid in wine deteriorates the enamel of your teeth. The pigment in red wine also sticks particularly well to your teeth. White wine also has similar effects because of the high acidity, but red wine does more damage because of the tannins.
  9. Fruit juice: Juice may seem healthy, but sometimes it contains even more sugar than soda. Drink it sparingly and consider diluting it with water.
  10. Gummy candy: Not only does the high sugar content harm your teeth, but the candy’s stickiness can pull out loose fillings and causes the sugar to stick to your teeth.
  11. Grinding your teeth: If you are a night grinder, talk to your dentist about using a mouth guard. Tooth grinding is normally caused by stress, so evaluate your schedule and habits to find ways to de-stress.
  12. Tongue piercings: This isn’t really a habit, but it should still be mentioned. Mouth piercings introduce more bacteria into your mouth. The studs also rub against your teeth and gums, causing damage that can lead to tooth loss, cracking, or chipping of your teeth at best. Talk with your dentist about the risks of mouth piercings before moving forward.
  13. Bedtime bottles: Bottles of milk or juice before bedtime can cause cavities and tooth decay early on for little ones. If sugary substances (even milk) remain in contact with your baby’s teeth overnight, they can cause major problems and cavities. If your baby uses a night time bottle, be sure it is milk (juice should never be put in a bottle, especially at bedtime) , and be sure to brush before bed.
  14. Skipping your sports mouthguard: When playing contact sports, wear a molded plastic mouthguard to protect your top teeth. Without it, you risk chipping or cracking of your most visible teeth. These can be purchased at sports stores, big box stores, or ask your dentist for a custom-fit.
  15. Constant snacking: Your mouth produces less saliva during a snack, so the food bits are less likely to be washed away–they may remain in your mouth for hours longer. Limit snacking to a morning and an afternoon snack if possible, and avoid sugary or overly starchy snacks–they’ll keep you full longer and are less harmful to your teeth and gums.
About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)

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