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Do you know some of our day-to-day habits can have a big impact on our oral health? While some of our habits can improve our oral health, some of them can harm our teeth and smile. Here are some daily habits that can harm our oral health.

Nail Biting

When your kid bites their nails during class or while they’re studying for an upcoming exam, it may not seem like a big deal. But nail biting can lead to serious oral health issues if it becomes a habit. The dangers of nail biting include the following:

  • Candida infection in the oral cavity and throat
  • Over-eruption of the front teeth
  • Chipping and wearing down of teeth
  • Breaking off of veneers or crowns
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)

If your child is a chronic nail biter, gently encourage them to stop. You can also try covering their fingers with band-aids to help them quit the habit.

For adults, it may be more difficult to quit. If you bite your nails, try to distract yourself by doing something with your hands, like knitting or painting. If you can, choose a safer style for your nails that will help prevent you from biting them.

Smoking

Tobacco can stain your teeth and cause bad breath. Additionally, it causes yellowing and discoloring along the gum line and in between the teeth. Cigarette smoking also affects the salivary glands, which makes it difficult for smokers to salivate properly. Saliva helps keep bacteria from sticking to teeth and gums. Without enough saliva production, plaque buildup can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Smokers are also at a higher risk of oral cancer than non-smokers. Oral cancer is one of the fastest-growing cancers in the U.S. today. And that number is expected to rise by as much as 8 percent each year for the next decade.

Quitting smoking is the best way to lower your risk for oral cancer and other oral health problems as well. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your dentist about help options to join support groups or see if your insurance covers smoking cessation aids.

Brushing Teeth Aggressively

While brushing your teeth is essential for preventing oral health issues, it’s important to use a gentle touch. If you brush too hard or use a side-to-side motion rather than a circular motion, you can cause enamel erosion and gum recession. You also run the risk of damaging your gum tissue if you brush in the incorrect direction – pulling down on your gum line rather than up.

Using a soft-bristled toothbrush is also recommended to prevent abrasion of your tooth enamel, as well as gentle flossing. Flossing daily can help prevent the buildup of plaque between your teeth, where an accumulation of food particles can encourage bacteria growth, leading to bad breath and tooth decay.

Teeth Grinding

Once an individual is asleep, their muscles are completely relaxed. As people age, this causes the body to naturally grind its teeth together. As a result, they can experience jaw pain, headaches, and other side effects like damaged teeth and jaws. If you wake up with a sore jaw or a dull headache in the morning, you are probably grinding your teeth at night. If you notice these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist to discuss ways to address tooth grinding and prevent further damage from occurring. They may recommend a mouth guard that you wear at night to prevent you from grinding your teeth while you sleep. Mouth guards can also protect individuals from damage due to teeth clenching and grinding during the day. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to more problems down the road, including cracked or broken teeth, loose alignment, and even tooth loss. To prevent these issues, be sure to schedule an appointment at your dentist’s office as soon as you begin notice that you are grinding your teeth in your sleep.

Using Teeth As Tools

Many people use their teeth to open packages or bottles. Sometimes people bite down hard on the ice, pens, pencils, etc. This can cause you to chip your teeth and damage them. Your teeth are not tools! If you need something opened, try using scissors instead, so you don’t damage or break your teeth.

Not Visiting the Dentist Regularly

When you don’t visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning, you run the risk of a variety of oral health problems ranging from cavities and gum disease to oral cancer. Your dentist can check for early signs of these conditions, and treating them as early as possible is key to maintaining your oral health.

Plaque buildup is common between visits, and it can lead to tooth decay. The early stages of decay may not hurt, so you won’t know you have a problem until it’s too late. Without professional intervention, a small cavity can quickly turn into a larger one, which can lead to the need for a root canal or even the loss of the tooth entirely.

Gum disease is also easier to treat when caught in the early stages of gingivitis. If left untreated, the condition can progress into periodontitis and lead to tooth loss. With regular checkups, your dentist can catch and treat the problem before it progresses to this level.

During your routine visit to the dentist’s office, you’ll receive a thorough oral examination to check for any signs of trouble. If any are found, your doctor may recommend treatment right away. Early detection improves your chances of successful treatment and can also help you avoid more costly procedures in the future.

Do you have questions about your oral health or dental care in general? Visit Newport Smiles Dental Spa at 570 W 19th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627, or call (949) 642-1033.

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