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Articles Health 10 things causing harm to your teeth
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10 things causing harm to your teeth

There are many everyday habits that may seem harmless but they can have a significant impact on the health and appearance of your teeth. Breaking these habits early before any damage is done can save you from needing dental treatment in the future.

Health Partners Hygienist, Malita McCabe tells us the 10 most common bad habits that could be damaging your teeth.

1. Nail biting

Nail biting can be a difficult habit to stop but over time it can lead to chipping, cracking and wearing down of your teeth or fillings.

Biting your nails doesn’t just damage the teeth, it can also cause them to move. In rare cases nail biting can cause the roots of the teeth to resorb, leaving them more likely to become loose. This is an even greater risk for people with wire braces.

A nail biting habit can increase a person’s risk of developing a chronic teeth-grinding habit, which can lead to even more oral health problems.

2. Drinking wine

Wine drinkers may want to stop reading! Both red and white wines are highly acidic, which can cause erosion of the tooth enamel. This can lead to teeth yellowing, sensitivity and a greater risk of decay.

The tannins in red wine can cause staining as well as a dry mouth (Xerostomia). A dry mouth is more likely to suffer from other dental problems down the track.

It’s important to remember to not brush immediately after acidic food and drink, which includes juice, vinegars, soft drinks (including diet versions) and energy drinks. Rinsing with water and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow are great ways to clear the acid from the mouth.

3. Smoking

Not only does smoking cause an array of general health problems, it is severely detrimental to your oral health.

It’s known to cause:

  • Tooth staining
  • Periodontal Disease (gum disease) due to impaired blood flow to the periodontium (the tissues that surround and support the teeth)
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Dry mouth
  • Oral cancer

4. Chewing ice cubes

Chewing on ice cubes might be tempting on a hot summer day but you may want to think twice before gnawing on them after your drink.

Chewing ice cubes can lead to:

  • Damage to the tooth enamel causing cracks and chips
  • Damage to existing dental work
  • Trauma to the gums
  • Temperature sensitivity

Malita says, “Similarly, chewing on pens and pencils can lead to tooth fractures, as well as a sore jaw and facial muscles.

5. Using the wrong tooth brush and incorrect brushing technique

If you’re using a toothbrush with hard bristles you’re probably doing more harm than good. Hard bristles can cause gingival recession and abrasion of the tooth and root surfaces. This dental trauma can put you at risk of sensitivity, decay and periodontal disease.

A toothbrush with a large head can make it harder to reach all areas of the mouth, leaving plaque and bacteria to cause further destruction to the gums and teeth.

A soft bristled toothbrush with a small head is the best for effectively removing plaque while not harming the tooth and gums.

“If you use an electric toothbrush apply only gentle pressure and let the brush do the work. Look for either the ‘gum care’ head or the ‘sensitive’ head,” says Malita.

6. Using your teeth to open bottle caps

It may seem like a fun party trick at the time but using your teeth to open a bottle cap could cause significant damage to your teeth. This can require complex dental treatment to fix including fillings, root canal therapy, crowns or even replacement of the damaged tooth with a denture or implant.

It’s best to only use a bottle opener for your drinks.

7. Playing sports without a mouthguard

When playing contact sports it’s best not to take any risks when it comes to your mouth. At Health Partners Dental you can be fitted for a custom mouthguard to help protect the teeth from any knocks. If you’re not cautious you could be at risk of:

  • Chipping and breaking of teeth requiring fillings, crowns and/or root canal treatment
  • Knocking a tooth out entirely
  • Fractures of the jaw

These trauma incidents can require complex treatment so wearing a mouthguard both at training and in games is vital.

8. Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding often occurs in your sleep so you may not even be aware of it. Your dentist will likely pick up the signs of grinding habits during your check-up and suggest a solution to assist with preventing this habit.

Grinding can cause:

  • Aching and loosening teeth
  • Loss of tooth enamel, exposing the inside of the tooth
  • Shortening of teeth length (stumpy teeth)
  • Painful and clicking jaw joint
  • Sore facial muscles or headache

9. Not flossing regularly

Brushing by itself is not able to reach all tooth surfaces to clean them effectively, especially in between teeth. Dentists recommend flossing once a day at night after your last meal to help avoid the following:

  • Gingivitis (red and bleeding gums)
  • Periodontitis (deeper gum disease)
  • Decay
  • Halitosis (bad breath)

10. Avoiding regular check-ups

“Early intervention and detection can prevent large dental problems from occurring,” says Malita.

Dental examinations and routine x-rays are important for uncovering dental abnormalities that would otherwise go unnoticed until the problem becomes advanced.

Generally, dental check-ups are recommended every 6 months but your dentist might recommend that you come in more or less often depending on your risk of developing a problem.

Malita says, “Prevention is better than cure and it is better to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to dental health.”

Due for a dental check-up?

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