You brush your teeth, floss and see your dentist regularly for those all-important check-ups. But chances are, you’re also engaging in a few habits that are especially damaging for your smile. Discover the habits that can cause damage to your teeth – and what you can do to stop them.
The Habit: Grinding Your Teeth
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching (also known as bruxism) can wear down your teeth over time and cause pain in the jaw. The biggest problem? You’re probably not aware that you’re doing it. This is because grinding and clenching commonly happen when you’re asleep, concentrating or under stress. The good news is that your dentist is trained to help spot it.
Your dentist may recommend a mouth guard or splint, which you can wear at night. If you’re grinding or clenching due to stress, tackle the source of that anxiety head on. Make time to relax and get quality sleep by adding relaxing activities to your nightly wind-down routine, like yoga, deep breathing, meditation, a hot bath or calming music. Also, try to become more aware of your habit by training yourself to relax your jaw when you notice yourself grinding or clenching. For example, you could open your jaw slightly or gently place your tongue between your upper and lower teeth. And a gentle massage on your jaw muscles before bed can help to relax the area and minimize your chances of clenching overnight, improving your oral health.
The Habit: Biting Your Nails
Not only does this habit result in jagged nails, it doesn’t make your teeth happy either! Nail biting tends to keep your teeth in constant motion, which can wear them down faster. Plus, it puts stress on your front teeth and weakens them, potentially leading to a more crooked smile.
It might sound obvious, but try to be more conscious of your nail biting so you can stop yourself. Don’t notice when you’re doing it? Ask friends, family members or colleagues to nudge you if they spot it. It’s also worth keeping your nails polished, so splurge on a manicure once in a while – when your nails look good, you’ll have extra incentive to keep them that way. Some people also swear by specially designed nail solutions that have a bad taste to help break the habit.
The Habit: Chewing Pens and Pencils
Nibbling on pens, pencils or even the ends of your glasses might seem harmless, but in extreme cases it can actually cause stress fractures on your teeth.
If you can’t break the habit on your own, try chewing gum instead. Choosing pens and pencils that you can’t munch might also help, such as ones with a highly decorative end (trust us, a giant fluffy unicorn pen isn’t tasty!). Alternatively, consider coating your pens, pencils or the end of your glasses in one of the bad-tasting nail solutions designed to prevent you from biting your nails. And, of course, make sure to maintain your oral hygiene so that your teeth continue to stay strong and healthy. A great way to start is by using an Oral-B Pro 6000 electric toothbrush to remove up to 300 percent more plaque along the gum line (vs. a regular manual toothbrush). Pair it with Crest Gum Detoxify Deep Clean Toothpaste, which has an activated foam formula that penetrates hard-to-reach places and neutralizes harmful plaque bacteria.
The Habit: Crunching Ice
Iced teas, coffees and sodas are delicious, but crunching on leftover ice can cause microscopic cracks in your pearly whites. Not only that, but sipping sugary drinks throughout the day further risks your teeth, as sweet and acidic beverages can lead to tooth decay.
Simply put, don’t munch on ice cubes. To resist the urge, sip soda through a straw and choose lidded cups. It’s best to keep sugary drinks to an occasional treat and also use a straw to help minimize the exposure to your teeth. If ice-cold drinks are making your teeth sensitive, try Crest Sensi-Relief Whitening + Scope Toothpaste, which provides clinically proven sensitivity relief.
The Habit: Using Your Teeth as Tools
Do you use your pearly whites to open food packages or to rip the price tags off clothes? We’re all guilty of doing it from time to time, but using your teeth instead of scissors can weaken teeth, knock out fillings or even cause a fracture.
Keep rounded safety scissors in your handbag or your glove box so you don’t have to recruit your mouth to help.
The Habit: Skipping Floss
Only 30 percent of Americans floss their teeth every day – and just as many say they never floss! But flossing comes with myriad benefits: It prevents tartar buildup, bad breath and gum disease, and it’s more effective than brushing alone.
If flossing feels like a hassle, try using a product that makes the job more convenient, such as Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Clinical Protection Floss Picks. They make it easy to reach back teeth, and they slide more easily into tight spaces to help remove plaque and food particles between teeth and just below the gum line vs. brushing alone. After brushing and flossing, follow up with Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Mouthwash to help protect your mouth from plaque and gingivitis.
For more advice on protecting your smile, be sure to check out Oral-B.