Oral habits that can ruin your teeth

You may have good oral hygiene routine yet you may be damaging your teeth unknowingly.

The followings are some oral habits that can damage your teeth:

1. Chewing on pens, pencils or even finger nails: chewing anything which was not designed for chewing can cause cracks in the teeth and existing fillings and inadvertently leading to more, bigger restorations. Also putting foreign objects in your mouth will transfer germs to the mouth which can be potentially harmful to your health.

2. Thumb sucking: Thumb sucking is mainly popular with young children and is a comforting behaviour; as they grow older they lose the habit. However a small percentage of the children continue to become adult thumb suckers. Thumb sucking is not normal and can cause serious dental problems. The position of the finger or thumb may lead to gaps between upper and lower teeth –also known as Anterior Open Bite. Correction of the anterior open bite require orthodontic treatment. In severe cases the shape of the jaw can change, requiring surgical procedures for the correction of the skeletal problem.

3. Mouth Breathing, Mouth breathing usually is a transient form of breathing during a course of cold or flu. Children and adults who have enlarged tonsils or suffer from prolonged courses of upper respiratory tract infections such as cold, flu, sinusitis or hay fever may become mouth breathers. Long term mouth breathing especially if started in childhood can lead to deformation of upper jaw, the palate will become narrow which in return will cause malocclusion and dental problems. Mouth breathing can also cause dry mouth and gums. Dry mouth is uncomfortable and people with dry mouth are more susceptible to dental caries and gum disease.

4. Playing contact sports without a mouth guard: playing contact sports such as rugby without a professionally made and fitted mouth guard bears the great risk of trauma to the teeth and tooth loss.

5. Drinking alcohol and wine: Drinking alcohol is a risk factor in gum disease and mouth cancer, the risk increases if it is combined with other risk factors such as smoking, poor oral hygiene, family history of the gum disease or mouth cancer. Red and white wine can also erode the dental enamel with their acidic pH.

6. Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of gum disease and mouth cancer as well as other health implications. The nicotine in the tobacco also stains the teeth and discolours them. Smokers have less pleasant smiles as the teeth will look yellower. They are prone to bad breath as the result of tobacco odours and gum disease as well.

7. Tooth clenching and grinding: clenching and grinding usually occur during a stressful period and are coping mechanisms. However in some individuals they become habitual and continue throughout the life. Persistent tooth grinding and clenching will lead to cracks, chips and fractures of the dentition and require intervention. Wearing a night guard can prevent the unwanted grinding trauma to the teeth.

8. Tongue piercings: Biting down on the metal stud can break a tooth. Lip piercings pose a similar risk. Constant friction of the metal against the gums, can cause gum recession and gum disease that may lead to tooth loss. The piercings raise the risk of infections and sores. Tongue piercing is a fashion trend you should avoid.

9. Bedtime bottles: If the teeth are bathed in milk, formula milk or juice, they are put at risk of decay. You have to start protecting your baby’s teeth from an early age by avoiding bedtime feeding bottles. If feeding is necessary, give the baby a sip of plain water to wash away the milk as much as possible.

10. Chewing ice: chewing ice can chip and crack the teeth, in fact chewing anything hard straight from the freezer poses the same risk whether it is ice and sugar free or chocolate and full of sugar.

11. Opening packages and caps with your teeth: Using your teeth as tools can crack or chip them. If you do not want to suffer an unexpected unpleasant expensive visit to your dentist, keep scissors and bottle openers handy and use your teeth for eating and smiling only.

Avoid these habits and improve your oral health and feel better. Prevention is better than cure and it is never too late to correct one’s bad habits. If you have any concerns about the issues raised above and wish to discuss it with our dentist, call us on 01923254979 and book an appointment.

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