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Five habits you should avoid if you want healthy teeth

Bright smile from the Dentist's Chair


If you think that in order to maintain great dental hygiene all you need to do is brush and floss each day, you might want to think again. As it turns out there are several everyday habits that could be putting your chompers at risk of decay, cracking and the erosion of enamel.

If you want to ensure your teeth remain in the best possible shape, dentists recommend you cut out the following habits:

Biting your nails
It might seem like a harmless nervous habit, but biting your nails can chip teeth and place strain on your jaw. According to the Colgate Oral Care Center and the American Dental Association, if you bite your nails, chew on pencils or clench your teeth you are at greater risk of a condition known as bruxism, which is the unintentional grinding or clenching that can cause facial pain, headaches, tooth sensitivity, recessed gums and tooth loss.

Brushing too hard
You want to be thorough, but what you don’t want is to go too hard on your teeth. When you brush too vigorously it can not only irritate your gums, but it can make teeth more sensitive to cold temperatures, it can wear down your enamel and it can create a pathway to cavities. In order to go gentler and still get a good clean, you want to use a soft-bristled toothbrush. It is still enough to remove plaque, but the fact it is soft will assist in preventing damage to your teeth, regardless of how enthusiastic your brushing technique is.

Chewing ice cubes
You might think this is because of the stress it can place on your jaw, but in actual fact teeth and ice cubes have something in common — they are both crystals. What happens when you press two crystals against each other? One breaks. While quite often it is the ice cube that gives way, there are occasions where your teeth will bear the brunt. If you don’t break a tooth you are still at risk of dislodging a filling. The best way to avoid this sort of damage is by having chilled beverages without the ice, which means you won’t be tempted to chew it.

Opening things with your teeth
If you use your teeth as a tool, stop it! Opening bottles or plastic packaging might be convenient (in the absence of scissors) but your dentist won’t be too pleased. If you don’t want to risk your teeth cracking or chipping you’ll avoid using them to open or tear things. Be sure to have a bottle opening nearby if you need it, or scissors. The only thing you want your teeth to do is chewing food.

Skipping your dental check ups entirely
Most dentists will recommend you see them at least once every six months, but often life will get in the way or you will skip it ‘just because’. To avoid bigger problems down the track, try and stick to at least an annual schedule with your dentist. It will allow them to stay abreast of what’s going on with your mouth and teeth and identify problems early, which means a less painful and often less expensive treatment.

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