Bad habits can be hard to break. Smoking…twirling hair…sucking on thumbs…these are all common bad habits that can take a long time to train yourself not to do. However, many of the things you do every day can be harmful for your teeth. Some lead to bad breath, while others can lead to toothaches and some pretty serious dental emergencies. It’s time to break these bad habits, clean up your act, and promote healthy oral hygiene. In many cases, it starts with having straight, healthy teeth, which can be achieved through Invisalign.
Here are some of the top bad habits that can be harmful to your smile:
Biting Your Nails
Biting your nails doesn’t just do a number on your manicure; it’s terrible for your teeth. When you chew on your nails, the enamel of your teeth can actually splinter and crack. Teeth can shift over time as well. But in the worst cases, you can experience jaw pain and headaches linked to jaw tension. Safeguard your smile by quitting the nail-biting.
Taking Gummy Vitamins
Lots of vitamins come in gummy form these days. They’re easy to chew and swallow, and come in cute shapes or fruity flavors, but they wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. They’re essentially just like candy gummy worms, in that they get into the crevices of your teeth. If you don’t brush them out afterwards, those substances will remain attached to your teeth just like candy and cause cavities.
Brushing Too Soon After Every Meal
You’ve always been told your whole life to brush after meals. But turns out, brushing too soon and too hard after eating or drinking is doing more harm than good, particularly when it comes to acidic foods and beverages. For example, right after drinking soda, your teeth are softer. If you brushed at that point, you could damage your enamel.
It’s recommended that you wait about a half hour after eating citrus fruits or drinking coffee and carbonated beverages prior to brushing your teeth, to give saliva sufficient time to remineralize your enamel.
Scrubbing Too Hard
Brushing your teeth too vigorously is actually counter-intuitive. If you notice the bristles of your brush look flat and they fan out to the sides, with fraying and matting occurring in less than three months, you’re probably brushing too hard. Aggressive brushing can cause dental wear to the teeth as well as gum recession, which can lead to tooth sensitivity. Treat your teeth gently.
Using Your Teeth as Tools
Many people use their teeth as a pair of scissors or a third hand to open anything from a bag of chips to packaging. However, your teeth are not tools to be used in this way. They are only for chewing food. When you place excessive forces on your teeth, you can cause fractures on the teeth and even underlying bone, resulting in receding gums as well.
Drinking Coffee or Wine
If it can stain your clothing, it can stain teeth. Coffee, soda, wine and tea all have the ability to stain your teeth over time. Even dark juices and condiments such as tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar can discolor teeth. Red wine may contain healthy antioxidants, but the pigmented substances and tannins can do a number on those pearly whites.
If you think you’ll just switch from red to white wine, think again. White wine also erodes enamel and has fruit acids that can also penetrate the teeth.
Crunching on Ice Cubes
It’s tempting to chew on ice with your drink, but this nasty habit can have a detrimental impact on your dental health over the long term. Ice is an extremely strong material, and when you chew on it, you can cause small fracture lines within your teeth. If you make a habit of chewing ice, your teeth will become weaker and may even fracture one day.
Other hard substances that can also harm your teeth include potato and corn chips, hard candy, and breath mints.
Adding Lemon or Vinegar
While it’s ok to add the occasional squeeze of lemon to your water or a mug of tea, when you constantly sip on vinegar-based detox drinks or on citrus-infused beverages, this can weaken your tooth enamel. That’s because highly acidic foods slowly erode tooth enamel. If you do partake in these beverages, rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water afterwards and wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
While tongue piercings may seem at first like harmless body modifications, they can take a real toll on your mouth. They are discouraged by dentists because they cause a host of oral health problems. They could chip or break your teeth, your fillings could be damaged by constant clicking of the jewelry, and they can interfere with dental x-rays. Also, if you force your tongue piercing between your teeth repeatedly by habit, this can cause a gap in teeth.
Bad habits are hard to break for a reason: we like doing them because they bring comfort. However, just be aware of the toll those habits are having on your smile. Speaking of smiles, if you want to improve yours, take our smile quiz to find out if you’re a candidate for Invisalign, and book a FREE virtual consultation to learn more about our treatment plans.