Do you find yourself biting your nails when you are feeling anxious? Or maybe you like to gnaw on your pencil while you work. While both of these habits may seem trivial, they have the potential to do a lot of harm to your teeth. Here at Boise Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center, we know how important a patient’s smile can be, and we want to ensure your smile stays healthy and bright. Below, we have listed several habits that contribute to poor oral health with tips on how to break bad habits:
- Nail biting – Many people bite their nails throughout the day when they feel stressed or bored, and most nail biters don’t even notice how often they bite their nails. While it may seem harmless, biting your nails frequently can cause your teeth to become misaligned, splinter, or even break completely, permanently damaging your natural smile. Additionally, biting nails is unsanitary and bad for nail health. An easy fix is to chew sugar-free gum to keep your mouth occupied, and keep you from wanting to bite. This will not only improve your oral health but also freshen your breath! Wearing scented lotion or hand sanitizer can also help you start noticing when you bring your hands up to your face.
- Pen Gnawing – Similarly, chewing on a pen or pencil can do immeasurable harm to your teeth. People tend to perform this habit absentmindedly and are unaware of how much pressure they are putting on their teeth when they bite down on these hard objects. Consequences of this habit also include the shifting, cracking, and breaking of your teeth, which can impair your ability to chew and smile. Fortunately, chewing gum or using minted toothpicks can help you kick this habit in no time. You might also consider buying pencil toppers or erasers to cover the metal end of your pencil and help remind you not to bite!
- Teeth as Tools – Have you ever needed to rip a tag off clothes but couldn’t find a pair of scissors? You probably figured you might as well use your teeth. Teeth exist to help us speak, smile, and chew properly, and are not designed to withstand the type of stress put on them when using them as a tool. Using your teeth to open things or bite down on hard objects can cause cracked and broken teeth, which can be painful and expensive to restore. Taking those few extra minutes to find some scissors could save you a lot of time, money, and discomfort.
- Ice Crunching – When it comes to oral health, this is both one of the most common and most damaging habits. It may seem easy to crunch ice, and even soothing on a hot day, but what you don’t realize is the detrimental effect it can have on your teeth. Chewing ice can wear down tooth enamel, increase sensitivity to hot and cold foods, and sometimes even breaks or cracks teeth. People with fillings should be especially careful, as ice causes fillings to contract and become more fragile. Once again, sugar-free gum or toothpicks are a much better option if you are looking for something to chew on.
- Keep Your Eye Out For Wisdom Teeth - Though an adult has 32 permanent teeth, over time, our jaws have narrowed, allowing room for only 28 teeth to fit comfortably. Even if our wisdom teeth erupt from our gums with no problems, they can cause our other teeth to crowd and become misaligned, making teeth harder to keep clean and healthy. Dentists recommend that nearly 80% of their patients get their wisdom teeth removed.
While habits can be tough to break, your oral health will benefit greatly if you eliminate them from your daily routine. Your teeth will keep their strength and ability to chew food, and you won’t have to worry about showing off your smile. If you have lost or broken your teeth, either in connection with these habits or for other reasons, please feel free to contact our office about possible solutions, such as dental implants. We look forward to answering any questions you have and will gladly schedule a consultation for you to meet with our experienced oral surgeon, Dr. Bobst.