These 3 Oral Habits Could Be Ruining Your Teeth
Bad habits are something all of us develop over our lifetime. As kids it may be something harmless like wiping your hands on your clothes. As we get older we may develop some more harmful habits such as smoking or anxious eating. We rarely stop and think about the damage that some habits can do to our teeth, especially if they seem innocuous. Below, we’re going to discuss the top three most common orally damaging habits, some of which may have developed when you were a child.
1. Parafunctional Oral Habits
Parafunctional oral habits include things such as bruxism (grinding & clenching), nail biting tongue thrusting and digit sucking, aka thumb sucking.
Bruxism that occurs while you’re awake is often caused by stress, anxiety, tension or as a habit during periods of concentration. Bruxism can also occur while you’re asleep due to sleep-related chewing activity. Grinding or clenching your teeth can lead to a deterioration of your enamel as well as jaw disorders such as TMJ and headaches.
Bruxism is fairly common among children, however they end up outgrowing this habit. Adults that continue to grind or clench their teeth may need to receive dental corrections to reshape the chewing surfaces of the teeth or wear mouth guards when they sleep.
Tongue thrusting and thumb sucking are other parafunctional oral habits that typically form in kids and while they may go away by the time adulthood sets in, they can cause oral issues before that. Both of these oral fixations can cause abnormal tooth positioning, especially as the adult teeth grow in, speech impediments and issues with jaw development. Some treatments for these habits include specific retainers like the Hawley appliance or thumb crib that discourages these poor habits.
2. Frequent Snacking
Constant snacking throughout the day, including sipping on sugary drinks can cause harmful bacteria to infiltrate your mouth. Sugary foods and drinks can cause cavities to form, while carb filled treats like chips or pretzels can increase the risk of plaque buildup and tartar. If you can’t go without snacking (we know it’s tough!) we recommend rinsing your mouth with water or a mouthwash to prevent food particles from staying lodged in between your teeth.
3. Brushing With Too Much Pressure
Brushing teeth is a big part in staying cavity, plaque and tartar free. However, you may form a habit of pushing down hard on your toothbrush when brushing since you may think this will help really get those bristles deep to uncover your pearly whites.
In reality aggressive brushing like that could cause receding gums, sensitive teeth or worn down enamel. Adopting a habit of putting as much pressure on your toothbrush as you would when writing with a pencil or investing in an electric toothbrush could help overcome brushing your teeth too harshly.