Oral Habits and Dental Risks
Bad oral habits include anything from stopping abruptly at a red light, to making unhealthy food choices. They may seem like just a part of everyday life, but these practices can lead to dire consequences. When bad habits impact oral health, the results can be very painful on both our bodies and our wallets.
Here is a list of the worst oral habits that can damage the hard and soft tissues of your mouth. To keep your healthy smile pain-free, functioning properly and looking its best, avoid the following bad habits:
- Thumb or Finger Sucking: It is common for kids to go through a thumb sucking phase, but if it persists this bad oral habit can lead to misaligned adult teeth. The consistent pressure of the thumb being pressed against the erupting teeth cause them to grow in crooked. If a child is an aggressive thumb sucker, this problem can even lead to deformities in the upper palate.
There are a number of reasons why children suck their thumbs or fingers. To break the habit, it is important to recognize the underlying cause. Some kids naturally outgrow thumbsucking, but others don’t have the willpower to stop on their own. In these cases, a child therapist may be helpful.
- Clenching and Grinding: Jaw clenching and teeth grinding can be very damaging to your teeth, jaw, and mouth. Most people who clench and grind do so when they are under a lot of stress.
The immense pressure imposed by teeth grinding can lead to enamel erosion, leaving teeth more susceptible to decay. Clenching of the jaw can be very painful and can cause chipped and cracked teeth, and lockjaw.
Your dentist can offer options to help break this oral habit, such as wear a custom-fitted mouth guard or doing stress-reducing exercises.
- Biting/Chewing Ice: Eating ice can wreak havoc on your dental health. Teeth were not created to bite or chew hard objects like ice, in fact doing so can lead to broken teeth, chipping and cracks. In addition, exposing teeth to the extreme cold can increase tooth sensitivity.
- Using Teeth as Tools: Never use your teeth to tear through packages, remove clothing tags or to open lids. Using your teeth as tools can destroy costly dental work and lead to a host of other problems.
- Nail Biting: Biting or chewing on your nails all the time can ruin your dental work and damage your teeth. This bad oral habit also exposes your mouth to harmful bacteria beneath your fingernails. In fact, biting on anything besides food boosts the risk of infection, chipping and cracking teeth.
- Sipping Sugary Drinks: If you drink sugar-laden beverages throughout the day, instead of water, your teeth are constantly under attack. Oral bacteria thrive on sugar and carbs, causing plaque production to increase. To break this habit, reach for water instead of soda, fruit drinks or juices, or sports beverages.
It costs a lot of money to repair or replace decayed, broken or missing teeth. So, if you want to protect the condition of your teeth and gums, it will serve you well to break any bad oral habits.