You brush your teeth, floss regularly, and see your dentist for those all-important check-ups. But the chances are, you’re also engaging in a few habits that are especially damaging for your smile. Discover the worst dental habits – and what you can do to stop them.
The habit: grinding your teeth
Teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching (also known as bruxism) can wear down your teeth over time and cause pain in the jaw. The biggest problem? You’re unlikely to be aware you’re doing it. This is because grinding and clenching commonly happens when you’re asleep, concentrating or are under stress. The good news is that your dentist is trained to help spot it – yet another reason not to miss your regular check-ups.
Your dentist may recommend a mouth guard or splint, which you can wear at night. If you’re grinding or clenching due to stress, tackle the source of that anxiety head on. Make time to relax and get a good night’s sleep by doing things that help you wind down before bed, such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation, having a bath or listening to music.
Also, try to become more aware of your habit by training yourself to relax your jaw when you notice yourself grinding or clenching. For example, you could open your jaw slightly or gently place your tongue between your upper and lower teeth. And a gentle massage on your jaw muscles before bed can help to relax the area and minimise your chances of clenching overnight.
The habit: biting your nails
Not only does it wreck your nails, it doesn't make your teeth happy either. This is because nail-biting tends to keep your teeth in constant motion, which can wear them down faster. Plus, it puts stress on your front teeth and weakens them, potentially leading to a more crooked smile.
It might sound obvious, but try and be more conscious of your nail biting so you can work to stop yourself. Don’t notice when you’re doing it? Ask friends, family members or colleagues to nudge you if they spot it.
It’s also worth keeping your nails polished, so splurge on a manicure once in a while – when your nails look good, you’ll have extra incentive to keep them that way. Some people also swear by specially designed nail solutions that have a bad taste to help break the habit.
The habit: chewing pens and pencils
Nibbling on pens, pencils or even the ends of your glasses might seem harmless but, in extreme cases, it can actually cause stress fractures on your teeth.
If you can’t break the habit on your own, try chewing gum instead. Choosing pens and pencils that you can’t munch might also help, such as ones with a highly decorative end (trust us, a giant fluffy unicorn pen isn’t tasty!).
Alternatively, consider coating your pens, pencils or the end of your glasses in one of the bad-tasting nail solutions that are designed to stop you biting your nails. And, of course, ensure you maintain your oral hygiene so that your teeth continue to stay strong and healthy.
The habit: crunching ice
Iced teas, coffees and sodas are delicious, but crunching on leftover ice isn’t a smart idea. The reason? Ice is hard and biting into it can cause microscopic cracks in your pearly whites. Not only that, sipping sugary drinks throughout the day further risks your teeth, as sweet and acidic beverages can lead to decay.
Simply put: don’t munch on ice cubes. To resist the urge, sip soda through a paper or metal straw and choose lidded reusable cups. It’s best to keep sugary drinks to an occasional treat and also use a straw to help minimise the exposure to your teeth. If ice-cold drinks are making your teeth sensitive, try Oral B Pro-Expert Deep Clean Toothpaste, which helps target and prevent issues including sensitivity, cavities, plaque, gum problems, bad breath, tartar and enamel erosion.
The habit: using your teeth as tools
Do you use your pearly whites to open food packages or to rip the price tags off clothes? We’re all guilty of it from time to time, but using your teeth instead of scissors can weaken teeth, knock out fillings, or even cause a fracture.
Keep rounded safety scissors in your handbag so you don’t have to resort to recruiting your mouth to help. To further help keep your teeth strong, try Oral B Pro-Expert Strong Teeth toothpaste. It strengthens your teeth from the root to the tip to keep your smile healthier for longer.
For more advice on protecting your smile, be sure to check out Oral-B.
What bad habits are you trying to give up? Let us know in the comments section below.