Are you wrecking your teeth without even knowing it? If you suck your thumb or suck on lemons, you’re doing your pearly whites wrong. And did you know that biting your nails is not only bad for your fingers, it can actually hurt your teeth, too? While some of these dental health “don’ts” can do immediate damage to your teeth (by cracking or breaking them), the effects of others may add up over time, harming your dental health in the long run. So put all 7 of these bad habits to rest — for your teeth’s sake.
1. Thumbs Down on Thumb Sucking
Children who still suck their fingers or thumbs after their permanent teeth start coming in — usually around the age of 5 or 6 — could be causing permanent changes that affect tooth and jaw structure. Specifically, thumb sucking can cause a misalignment of the teeth. This misalignment can lead to a number of issues, including difficulty chewing and breathing problems — so help wean your child off his thumb.
2. Lay Off the Lemons
People who suck lemons may be putting their dental health in jeopardy. Why? Lemons are very acidic. The acidity corrodes the enamel [of the teeth]. Repeated exposure to acidic substances can cause tooth enamel to erode, creating a rough texture on the surface of your teeth.
3. Don’t Brush Too Hard
Brushing your teeth regularly is part of good oral hygiene, but if you brush too vigorously, you can cause more harm than good. Brushing your teeth too hard can wear down enamel, irritate your gums, make your teeth sensitive to cold, and even cause cavities. To avoid these problems, just look for the letters ADA [American Dental Association] on the box, which means the bristles are firm enough to remove plaque, but soft enough not to cause damage.
4. Refrain From Jaw Clenching & Tooth Grinding
For some people, stress can trigger frequent clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth. There is a severe amount of pressure on your teeth when you do that, and you can get microfractures or actual fractures in your teeth. Microfractures are weakened areas in your teeth that puts them at risk for further damage. Jaw clenching or tooth grinding can also damage dental work.
5. Do You Crunch on Ice? Cool It
Ice cubes may seem harmless, but beware of the killer cube. The cold temperature and the hardness of ice cubes can cause serious damage to your teeth. Our teeth are designed to crush through things, not against something. Even though crunching ice with your teeth may be easy, keep in mind that your blender needs special blades to crush ice.
6. Teeth Are Not a Tool
Many people use their teeth to break off a tag on clothing, rip open a package of potato chips, or even unscrew bottle tops. However, teeth are meant to help us do three things: Chew food, speak properly, and look better when we smile. Teeth are not pliers, teeth are not hooks. Using your teeth as a tool is a threat to dental health and can damage dental work or cause your teeth to crack.
7. Say No to Soda
Always have a soda on hand? Carbonated drinks can be bad for your teeth, because they tend to be very acidic. Even if it’s diet, the acidity of [soda] is just corroding your enamel. The effects of soda on teeth are even worse if you slowly sip it over a long period of time. People don’t realize they are bathing their teeth in acid for an hour. The acidity in soda can lead to dental health problems such as decay around your gum line and loss of enamel.
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