Are You Ruining Your Teeth With These Bad Habits?

Everyone has a few bad habits, but did you know that some of yours could be ruining your teeth? And you’re not alone — over 90% of American adults have at least one cavity, and millions of Americans are missing some or all of their teeth. Bad habits are contributing factors in many of these cases.

At Robert F. Wilcox, DMD, PC, we’re invested in your oral health, providing a wide range of general and cosmetic dentistry services. Dr. Wilcox and our entire care team believe a proactive approach is the best way to ensure the health of your teeth, especially when it comes to breaking bad dental habits. 

We have curated this informative guide to help you identify bad habits that could be ruining your teeth. Read on to learn more.   

1. Not brushing, flossing, or rinsing your teeth regularly

Your days are busy and long, and when you’re stretched thin, it’s easy to let basic dental care slide. It may seem obvious, but one of the most detrimental habits when it comes to dental health is skipping or skimming on routine brushing, flossing, and rinsing. 

Even if you brush your teeth regularly, you only reach about half of the surface area of your teeth. Flossing reaches the areas that brushing alone can’t, helping eliminate cavity-causing plaque between teeth.

For healthy teeth and gums, brush twice a day, rinse as soon as possible after all meals and snacks, and floss at least once a day. 

2. Brushing or flossing too hard

While brush and flossing are important, it’s equally key to use a soft touch. Some people floss or brush their teeth very vigorously or use a toothbrush with hard bristles. Over time, this rough treatment causes degradation in your enamel, making it easier for cavities to form. You can also irritate your gums, increasing your risk of bleeding and infection. 

Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles, practice brushing in gentle, circular patterns, and floss well but carefully. Dr. Wilcox or a member of our care team can review the basics of brushing and flossing with you if vigorous brushing or flossing has been an issue.

3. Biting your nails, ice, and other strange stuff

Nail-biting is a nervous habit that’s bad for your overall health and your teeth. Not do you ingest all sorts of harmful germs and bacteria when you bite your nails, but this habit can also cause your teeth to move or shift out of place, break or damage your dental enamel, and increase your risk of infection.

Your nails aren’t the only thing you should stop biting. Hard substances, like ice or plastics, can cause breaks or chips in your teeth. This can make your teeth more sensitive to extreme temperatures, like a hot cup of tea or a scoop of ice cream. 

Avoid chewing on any non-food items, never use your teeth to open packages or bottles, and use your back molars when biting down on hard foods. This helps reduce your risk of damaging your front teeth and helps promote better overall dental health. 

4. Clenching or grinding your teeth

About one-third of Americans grind their teeth, but unless the person you share a room with complains about it to you, you may not realize you’re doing it. Unfortunately, this bad habit can ruin otherwise healthy teeth. 

Not only can grinding your teeth give you chronic headaches, increase the risk of earaches, and make your face, neck, or jaw sore, it can destroy your smile. Long-term effects include:

Wearing a mouthguard is the easiest treatment for chronic tooth grinding. Dr. Wilcox can recommend a custom mouthguard for you that will fit more comfortably and be more effective than a store-bought alternative. 

5. Not getting regular dental exams

Breaking the other bad habits on the list and brushing and flossing your teeth every day are good first steps in fostering healthy teeth. But it’s also important to make and keep regular dental exams at least twice a year. 

Professional dental cleanings and examinations help identify any oral health issues early, making it possible to start treatment early. At Robert F. Wilcox, DMD, PC, we make visiting the dentist pleasant and easy. Call our Butte, Montana, office to schedule an appointment.

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