You probably care for your smile by brushing, flossing, and getting regular dental exams and cleanings. Taking care of your teeth and gums is important, but you may be harming your oral health without even realizing it. Some common habits that you might not think about could cause serious harm to your mouth, either suddenly or gradually over time.
Brushing your teeth twice a day is important, but you should not be overzealous and brush too hard. This can wear down enamel, irritate your gums, and increase sensitivity to cold. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association and brush gently.
Toothpicks can remove food particles from between your teeth and improve your oral hygiene, but you need to be careful. Pressing too hard can hurt your gums and teeth.
Carbonated drinks like soda can harm your teeth because they are acidic and wear away enamel. Soda affects teeth even more if you drink it slowly over a long period of time because the teeth are continuously bathed in acid. Soda can cause decay around the gum line and loss of tooth enamel.
If you enjoy sucking on lemons, that can be harmful. Lemons contain acid that can erode tooth enamel and leave it with a rough texture.
Chewing on ice cubes may seem harmless, but it can actually chip or break a tooth. Teeth are not designed to crush against hard objects.
If you clench your jaw or grind your teeth when you are stressed out, it could be causing damage. This puts a lot of pressure on teeth and can lead to fractures and damage to dental restorations.
Biting your nails on a regular basis can cause your teeth to shift out of their correct positions. It can also cause them to break or splinter the enamel.
Holding objects, such as pens, pencils, or glasses, between your teeth puts pressure on them. This can make your teeth shift or crack and can damage dental work.
If you use your teeth to tear or open things instead of looking for tools, this can cause damage to dental work or crack your teeth. Teeth are meant to be used for eating, not as tools.
Many babies and young children suck on their thumbs and fingers. This is fine at an early age, but if children continue to suck on their fingers after their permanent teeth start to come in, it can cause them to become misaligned, which can lead to trouble chewing and breathing problems. Misaligned teeth may need to be corrected with orthodontic work.