Practicing good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and seeing a dentist for regular check-ups are all good ways to protect your teeth from cavities, gum disease and other issues. But, taking good care of your teeth should involve more than establishing a good oral care routine. It should also involve protecting your teeth from damage, so that you can avoid oral surgery or the need for replacement teeth.
When it comes to the health of your teeth, some habits are a lot worse than others. For the sake of your teeth and gums, it’s a good idea to lay the following habits to rest.
Crunching on Ice Cubes
On a hot day, chewing on ice can be cooling. Some people get a lot of satisfaction from chomping down on an ice cube, too. But, ice cubes can damage your teeth in two ways. First, the cold temperature of the ice can damage the tooth’s enamel or cause any fillings you have to weaken. Second, the force you need to use to crunch through a frozen solid cube of ice can cause your teeth to crack or your enamel to chip away.
Ice can damage your mouth in other ways, too. The sharp shards of ice that can form when you break a cube with your teeth can scratch or otherwise injure your gums. If your teeth are already sensitive, putting ice near them can cause you a great deal of pain.
Opening Things With Your Mouth
You want to remove the tag from a new shirt, but a pair of scissors aren’t handy, so you use your teeth to snap through it. Or, the top to a bottle of nail polish is closed so tightly, you use your teeth to twist it open. Using your teeth to do the job of pliers, scissors or a wrench isn’t only a bad idea, it can also cause long lasting harm. Your teeth just aren’t designed to cut through tough plastic or paper or to act as a vise and can chip or break in the process.
To get out of the habit of using your teeth to open things, keep a pair of scissors handy, near where you bring in mail and near your wardrobe, so that you can easily snip of garment tags. Try running a bottle with a stuck lid under hot water to loosen it, instead of prying it open with your teeth.
Biting Your Nails
Your mother always told you not to bite your nails. As it turns out, nail biting not only ruins your manicure, it can really do a number on your teeth. Nails are pretty hard, and the force of biting them and pulling on them can cause your enamel to chip or your tooth to break. Biting your nails can also mess up the alignment of your teeth or cause jaw problems, as you are holding your jaw in an unnatural position when you bite down.
There’s also the fact that nail biting isn’t the most hygienic of habits. Think about where your hands have been all day — they are most likely covered in bacteria, which you then introduce to your mouth when you chew on your nails. One way to get over your nail biting habit is to keep your nails so short you have nothing to chew on. Another option is to paint your nails or to use a special coating that gives them a bad taste.
Sucking on Lemons
Sucking the juice from a fresh, tart lemon can be refreshing. But, it can also really wreck your teeth, especially over time. Lemons are very acidic, and that acid can wear down your teeth’s enamel. Over time, your teeth will become to feel rougher and may become more sensitive, since the enamel is worn down enough to expose some of the nerves.
There are plenty of things you can do to get over your lemon sucking habit. If you really enjoy the taste, try squeezing a tiny bit of lemon juice into a glass of water. The amount of water will minimize the effect of the acid on your teeth. You can also try sucking on a lemon-flavored, sugar-free hard candy. If you do keep up on the lemon habit, be careful about brushing your teeth afterwards. Rinse your mouth out with some water, to wash the acidic juice off of your teeth, and wait about 30 minutes before brushing, so that you don’t cause further wear and tear to the enamel.
If you’ve got bad tooth habits, Miami periodontists Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas can help you find ways to break them. To learn more about how your habits affect your teeth and gums, call their practice for an appointment today at (305) 447-1447.