1. Using them to open things or pry things. Teeth may seem to make handy tools, but if you damage them trying to open a bottle or package or untie a knot, then you could damage them badly enough that you may not have those tools readily available for their intended purpose, which is chewing your food. Try to resist the urge to use your teeth for anything that is not eating.
2. Chewing ice or hard candy. I know we just established that teeth are for eating, and this may seem to qualify as “eating”… but ice is intended to cool a drink and melt, not be chomped on, and hard candy and lollipops are supposed to be slowly dissolved in the mouth. These things were not intended to make use of the teeth, and they are not kind to them either. In fact, they can fracture your teeth! Even small pieces of ice are still very hard and not meant for your teeth. Be aware of this and keep ice in your cup and out of your mouth, and if you choose to suck hard candy, do your best to do so without chewing it.
3. Grinding at night. This is a difficult one to simply stop doing because you are unconscious when it happens, and you can hardly stay awake all the time! You may already be aware that you clench and grind at night, especially if you awaken with jaw pain or tightness, have tooth sensitivity, earaches, or headaches… but even if you think you don’t, ask your dentist if there is any indication that you clench or grind, in case the signs have gone unnoticed. Wearing a mouth guard at night is probably of the best way to handle this, as well as managing stress and anxiety, and correcting any misalignment in your bite.
4. Nervous chewing habits. Nail biting is a fairly common habit that is hard on both the nails and teeth. It is well worth the effort to stop. Also to be avoided is chewing objects like pens and pencils. These habits can also be bad for your gums by introducing all kinds of bacteria into your mouth. Relaxation and breathing techniques are thought to help. Otherwise, perhaps try to channel the nervous energy into something gentler: chew sugar-free gum, carry supplies to clip or gently file the nails when compelled to bite them, and get regular manicures.
5. Having piercings of the tongue and/or piercings of the lip. Many open-minded and often youthful patients embrace piercing as a form of self expression or edgy fashion accessory, but constantly having a foreign object in your mouth puts you at a much higher risk for injuring your teeth and gums. People often fracture teeth by accidentally biting down on the jewelry during eating. Even when not eating, many people tend to unconsciously play with or fidget with the jewelry throughout the day, which can also chip or crack a tooth or otherwise wound the mouth. Lip piercing jewelry can irritate the gums and cause gingival recession. We recommend caring enough about your teeth to avoid tongue and mouth piercings.
Which of these common things apply to you? Do you do some of these things without realizing you are putting your teeth at risk? If so, try to see if they can’t be eliminated, and make a point to bring it up at your next appointment so Dr. Vancil can address your concerns. The Mall of Georgia Dentistry team can take these often-overlooked lifestyle factors in account to make sure you get the best dental care. Knowing you’re getting the best care can provide a little more peace of mind… and a little peace of mind can actually be a good deterrent for a few of the detrimental habits we listed! Well, how about that… sounds like something smile about 🙂