Most of us know the importance of brushing our teeth and the role our oral health plays in our lives. From our speech to our ability to eat or feel confident when smiling, our dental health means a lot.
However, we might not realize how some of our daily habits can have negative long-term effects on our pearly whites. The team at WhiteWing Dental has put together five dental habits to break in 2021.
(Don’t worry – we also have tips on what to do instead!)
Bad Dental Health Habits to Break in 2021
1. Snacking on sugary treats constantly.
We’re starting with the hardest habit to break! Food and drinks with high sugar content can lead to tooth decay. Sticky, chewy candies also stay on your teeth longer, which means the sugar stays on longer as well, allowing enamel destroying bacteria to do their dirty work. Also, sodas and energy drinks with high sugar contents can leave a coat of acid on the enamel of your teeth.
Another fan favorite, coffee, is known to stain teeth. Most of us drink coffee with sugar or sweetened creamer, and drinking too much throughout the day increases your risk of tooth decay.
Instead: If you’re craving a sweet treat, try to eat it right after your meals instead of as a separate snack. Because your mouth produces more amounts of saliva after a bigger meal, this will help rinse away the residue of the sugar.
2. Using tobacco.
Studies have shown that cigarette smokers have a higher percentage of tooth discoloration than non-smokers. This is because tar is found in conventional cigarettes. During inhalation, this tar is deposited on the teeth and leads to staining. Unfortunately, the use of tobacco can also cause loss of bone density in the jaw, inflamed salivary glands, gum disease, and oral cancer.
Instead: Speak with a doctor about ways to reduce and, ultimately, remove nicotine from your daily life.
3. Chewing on harmful items.
When you can’t seem to find scissors, using your teeth to open items can be very tempting. However, doing so will put you at a higher risk of cracking or chipping your teeth. Dental emergencies often occur because of this habit and frequently require dental implants to remedy the issue.
In the same way, chewing on items such as pens and ice cubes can lead to chips and cracks. This is a habit that you might not even be aware of and can result from being nervous or anxious.
Another habit to be aware of is nail-biting. Nail-biting can not only also chip your teeth, but it can impact your jaw. Your jaw will be positioned at an unnatural angle and over time can lead to TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder.
Instead: Take the extra time to find scissors or use your hands to open objects. With iced drinks, switch to drinking with straws to remove the temptation to chew ice. If you catch yourself biting your nails, stop and document what has triggered that response. Once those are determined, discover new ways to keep your hands busy. Sugarless gum may also help when you have the urge to chew.
4. Grinding your teeth.
Are you aware that stress and anxiety can lead to harmful dental habits? Whether you grind your teeth during the day, or while you sleep, it’s likely that you are not aware of performing this habit. Grinding will wear your teeth down over time, and can lead to muscle tenderness, headaches, and damage to the bone structure of the jaw joint with temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ.)
Instead: A dentist can determine how much grinding or clenching you are doing throughout the day and provide options for repair. Relaxation exercises, reading before bed, and a nighttime guard may help reduce sleep grinding.
5. Brushing your teeth too quickly or too aggressively.
Now, we didn’t say brushing your teeth was a bad habit! However, the average amount of time a person spends brushing their teeth is 45 seconds. That is well below the two minutes that most dentists recommend. The way you brush is also important – be gentle with your teeth. Brushing aggressively is not more effective than careful brushing and can damage your gums.
Instead: Use a soft toothbrush with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. For proper pressure, brush in small, circular motions. Use a timer to become accustomed to how long 2-3 minutes of brushing feels like.
Cheers to a Beautiful Smile in 2021!
Replacing bad habits with healthier alternatives takes time. Have patience, stay positive, and trust the experienced McAllen dentists at WhiteWing Dental to keep your teeth healthy. We want to help you achieve the best oral health and aesthetics possible.