It’s a fact that surprises many, but the status of your oral health is often indicative of many diseases and underlying issues. On a social front, healthy gums, good breath, shiny teeth and a clean tongue are considered both hygienic and aesthetically appealing. 

We’ve heard about the importance of maintaining your oral and dental hygiene since we were kids. But what are the steps you can take to ensure your smile remains as pristine as possible? What should you be doing, and what should you not do? In today’s article, we’ll take you through 8 examples of bad oral habits that you should avoid for the health of your mouth and teeth. 

Habit 1: Eating Ice Often 

Ever crunched on the ice at the bottom of your drink? Well, you’re not alone. Loads of people enjoy sucking on ice cubes to feel cool and refreshed. But doing this regularly, especially chewing, can cause many problems. Chewing too frequently can result in damaged tooth enamel, further causing chipped or broken teeth.

Pagophagia is the medical term for the compulsive consumption of ice. It’s most commonly seen in children and pregnant women but can happen to people not falling in these categories as well. It’s listed as an indicator of mental issues, iron-deficient anemia and other nutritional problems. 

Habit 2: Biting Your Fingernails

Nail-biting is a habit we see in many children, but one that usually wanes by adolescence. In adults, compulsively chewing your fingernails is usually a tell-tale sign of stress or nervousness. Not only is nail biting bad for your fingers, but it’s also not great for your teeth. Continued nail biting can damage teeth and gums. Yup, your nails might seem weaker than your teeth but can just as easily wear them out through erosion, chipping and cracking of enamel. It can also cause tooth movement leading to malocclusion and gaps. But worst of all, it can result in root resorption, a condition in which the jaw bone reabsorbs the roots, weakening them and potentially causing them to fall out. Dirt from the nails can worsen gingivitis, and regular biting could grow into a bad bruxism habit. 

Habit 3: Tongue and Lip Piercings

This one is pretty simple to explain. Most oral piercings are metal, and biting down on one of them by accident may damage the tooth. Additionally, infections from the piercing may cause serious issues like dangerous swelling of the tongue. A badly done piercing could also result in nerve damage that can permanently or temporarily affect the way the mouth moves. 

Habit 4: Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard

Who would have thought brushing your teeth too much would be bad for your oral health?! Many people assume that brushing your teeth hard makes for good dental care practices, but this is actually far from the truth. Despite enamel being the hardest substance in the human body, overbrushing or brushing too hard can cause premature wear and tear. Sadly, enamel can’t repair itself which may result in you experiencing heightened dental sensitivity and a bigger risk of cavities. 

Brushing your teeth too hard also creates problems like gum recession, a dental issue in which your gum tissue shrinks back. This can cause the root of your teeth to become exposed, resulting in decay and oversensitivity since it is not protected by enamel. Gum recession can also change the way your smile looks. 

Habit 5: Chewing or Smoking Tobacco 

At the very outset, tobacco in all forms is terrible for your body. Be it your lungs, your heart, your appetite or your stamina, it’s also super bad for your teeth.

Aesthetically speaking, both smoking and chewing tobacco stain your teeth and your lips. Long-term smokers often have greyish lips and yellow coloured teeth. These habits also affect the way your mouth smells and might leave you with lingering ashy breath. They can also cause gum disease which, if unchecked, can make your teeth fall out. They also cause overall decay of the enamel, weakening the tooth. Nicotine habits can affect the jaw bone and salivary glands, and also cause tartar and plaque build-up. Cavities are a common side effect of a nicotine habit, and in some cases, chewing tobacco can even alter the sense of taste. To make matters worse, tobacco can delay the healing process following extraction, periodontal treatments, or oral surgeries and lower the success rate of implant procedures.

Most dangerously, smoking and chewing tobacco are one of the leading causes of mouth and tongue cancers. It increases the risk of leukoplakia, which is a precancerous lesion of the soft tissue in the mouth. This can result in cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus.

Habit 6: Eating High Levels of Sugar

To keep that smile sweet, stay away from sugary treats! Sugar lures in bad bacteria which has an effect on the pH levels of your mouth. Your mouth needs a balanced pH level to function normally. An overly acidic pH level might eat away at the enamel of your teeth causing cavities. That’s why dentists the world over recommend moderation when you consume sugary foods and beverages. 

Habit 7: Gummies and Hard Chocolates

Who doesn’t like chomping on gummy bears, stick jaw and gobstoppers? But are they good for your teeth? Aside from being bad for the sugary reasons mentioned above, these delicious goodies bring their own oral health risks. 

Gummies tend to stick to the surface of your tooth, creating a block between the tooth and saliva. This is bad because saliva helps neutralise the acid that builds in the mouth on account of the sugars. A more acidic pH is likely to cause more tooth erosion. 

Hard candy creates opportunities for tooth breakage and chipping. 

Habit 8: Using Your Tooth as a Tool

It’s everyone’s favourite party trick to open a beer bottle using their teeth when the opener is impossible to find. But as cool as this looks, it’s one of the easiest ways to chip or break your tooth. Using your teeth as a pair of scissors to tear things open is also not the greatest idea considering you can cut your gums. As for holding things like pens in your mouth, you’d be surprised to know that they can crack your tooth, aside from being a big choking hazard. 

Conclusion

Taking care of your oral health makes you look good and feel good! Avoid these bad habits, brush, floss and visit your dentist regularly, and you’ll be smiling happily every day!

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