Bad Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Teeth

Our expert team is committed to helping patients of all ages in Lincoln and York achieve beautiful, functional smiles. We’re able to do that by using cutting-edge technology to correct misalignments and straighten the teeth, but that’s not all we do at Pioneer Orthodontics—Dr. Annette Cserna also advises patients on a wide range of orthodontic and dental topics. That includes tips on maintaining good oral hygiene, and on bad habits that could be damaging your teeth! 

You may think that regular brushing and flossing is all that’s necessary for maintaining a healthy mouth, but bad habits like these can undermine even the best dental routine and compromise your oral health. These behaviors are so commonplace that you might engage in one or more of them without even realizing the damage they can cause! To learn more about why these habits are harmful, and what you can do to beat them, keep reading below. 

Maintaining good oral hygiene

Many people think they have their bases covered as long as they brush a couple of times a day, but your dental hygiene routine should go beyond that.

As far as brushing itself goes, Dr. Cserna recommends using fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day and brushing for two minutes each time. For the best results, you’re better off using a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle strokes to clean the teeth and gums. Don’t forget to floss every night before bed, too! This will get rid of any stubborn food particles and lessen the build-up of plaque, reducing your chances of developing tooth decay. 

Mark your calendar every 3-4 months to remind you that it’s time to replace your toothbrush, but do it sooner if you have a cold or any other illness. Antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes can also improve your oral health by eliminating the types of bacteria that cause bad breath and gum disease!

Bad Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth

Tooth grinding, or bruxism, is the involuntary grinding of the teeth outside of normal chewing, swallowing, or speaking movements. There are several possible causes for this, which can include:

  • stress and anxiety
  • medications
  • certain medical conditions
  • genetics
  • misalignment between the teeth and jaws
  • an abnormal bite
  • missing or crooked teeth

Bruxism can cause quite a few problems, from interrupted sleep to chronic headaches and many issues in between. It can also wear down the enamel of your teeth if it’s not treated, eventually exposing the much softer dentin inside. This may result in tooth sensitivity, with symptoms ranging from mild to intense.

There are several options for reducing or eliminating the symptoms associated with tooth grinding. Many of these solutions will help prevent any further damage and also treat any that’s already present. This generally involves addressing and correcting obvious underlying causes, like stress, anxiety, or untreated orthodontic issues. Dr. Cserna may recommend proactive treatment as well, such as wearing a mouthguard overnight.

Sometimes it helps to simply be aware that you’re grinding your teeth! If you feel yourself clenching or grinding your teeth, you can try positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth to train the jaw muscles to relax. Holding a warm washcloth against your cheek can often produce the same effect and is a calming way to end your day.   

Using your teeth as a tool

You’d be surprised at what we’ve seen people use their teeth for over the years here at Pioneer Orthodontics! Tearing open bags, ripping tags off clothing, uncapping bottles—we’ve seen or heard it all. Many people do this without even thinking about it, but using your teeth as tools can be tough on them. After all, it only takes one wrong move for a tooth to be traumatized, chipped, or fractured.

With that in mind, try to stop and think when you’re about to use your teeth for something that could be harmful. Keep simple tools like scissors, nail clippers, and pliers in convenient places around the house so you aren’t tempted to do the dirty work with your mouth. Reducing the amount of unnecessary stress on your teeth will help keep them strong for years to come.

Chewing on various objects

Many adults we see at Pioneer Orthodontics find themselves crunching on ice or chewing their fingernails when they’re bored or need a distraction. These may seem like harmless habits, but they can be destructive to your teeth. Ice, for example, has freezing temperatures and a tough texture that can cause fractures, and biting down on them can also introduce microscopic cracks into the surface of the enamel. Given enough time, this can lead to several other dental issues. 

Ice isn’t the only thing to avoid here, though! Chewing on pencils, pen caps, or your fingernails are often subconscious habits, but they can chip away at the tooth enamel and irritate the soft tissue inside the teeth. If this is something you struggle with, try giving your mouth something else to do, like chewing sugarless gum or snacking on something healthy that has a satisfying crunch, like fresh fruits or veggies. These are good for you and your oral health!

Bad Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Teeth

Beat bad oral habits with help from Pioneer Orthodontics

As an experienced orthodontist, Dr. Cserna has been trained to diagnose and correct a multitude of orthodontic issues. Identifying harmful oral habits is an important part of that process, too, but you don’t have to be an orthodontic patient to benefit from breaking a bad habit!

If you’re in Lincoln or York, we can help you break free from destructive oral habits. Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with our expert team and take the first step towards stronger teeth, a healthier smile, and lasting oral health.