You know what they say: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t break old habits that are harmful to your teeth and gums. In fact, it’s never too late to make positive changes to improve your oral health!
Here are some of the worst habits that can do a lot of damage to your oral health. These will leave you with bad breath, bleeding gums, and yellow teeth. If you’re guilty of any of these, you’ll save yourself thousands of dollars in dental bills by quitting them.
1. Smoking and chewing tobacco
Do you chew tobacco? Or smoke? If you do, you’re putting your teeth and gums at risk.
Tobacco products are loaded with harmful chemicals that can cause serious damage. Tobacco can stain your teeth, and it can also make them loose and brittle. And if that’s not bad enough, it can also cause gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss.
2. Nail biting
Nail biting isn’t all that bad but it can lead to bad breath and even infections. If you’re a nail biter, the best thing you can do is to break the habit. It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely worth it in the end. Here are a few tips that might help:
- Keep your nails trimmed short so there’s less temptation to bite them.
- Try chewing on gum when you get the urge to bite your nails.
3. Using your teeth as tools
You might not realize it, but using your teeth as tools can actually do a lot of damage to your pearly whites.
For example, using them to open a tight jar lid or to tear open a package can cause chips and fractures in your teeth. And if you’re someone who likes to crunch on ice, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your teeth and exposing them to potential cracks and fractures. The amount of force that’s needed to crunch on ice is enough to damage your enamel.
4. Grinding your teeth
Do you ever find yourself grinding your teeth at night? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, a lot of people grind their teeth without even realizing it.
Grinding your teeth can be a sign of stress, and it can also lead to some serious dental problems. Over time, it can cause your teeth to wear down and even crack. Not to mention, it can also damage your gums.
If you find yourself grinding your teeth, there are a few things you can do to stop it. First, try to relax before bedtime. If that doesn’t work, you might want to try wearing a nightguard.
5. Eating too much sugar
This one is the most obvious one, but eating too much sugar is one of the worst things you can do for your teeth and gums. Sugary drinks and foods can cause tooth decay and gum disease, both of which can lead to serious health problems.
6. Not brushing properly
You might think that you’re brushing your teeth properly, but chances are, you’re not. Most of us think that all we need to do is brush our teeth for two minutes, twice a day. But that’s actually not enough.
The truth is, you need to have proper technique and do it at the right time. For example, you should never brush your teeth right after eating. That’s because brushing immediately after consuming something acidic can damage the enamel layer of the tooth. Waiting about 30 minutes before brushing allows tooth enamel to remineralize and build itself back up.
Also, when you brush your teeth too hard, you can wear down the enamel on your teeth. Over time, this can lead to cavities and even tooth loss. And it’s not just your teeth that can be affected—brushing too hard can also damage your gums, leading to gingivitis and other problems.
So how can you tell if you’re brushing too hard? If you’re feeling a lot of pain or bleeding when you brush, then you’re likely brushing too hard. Try using a softer toothbrush, or check out this article on how to brush your teeth correctly.
7. Not flossing
It’s no secret that not flossing is bad for your teeth and gums. But what a lot of people don’t know is just how bad it can be. Flossing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and it only takes a minute or two each day.
Flossing removes plaque and bacteria from between your teeth and under your gums, where a toothbrush can’t reach. Not flossing can lead to all sorts of problems, including gum inflammation, tooth decay, and even periodontal disease.
Just make sure you don’t floss too hard. Flossing too deep can cause your gums to recede over time. Once this happens, you’ll start to experience tooth pain because the areas of the tooth being exposed have thin enamel. With extreme cases, the root of the tooth can be exposed causing even further tooth pain.
8. Misuse of Toothpicks
Toothpicks were created to remove gunk stuck between the teeth. However, misusing toothpicks can cause enamel damage and scratches on the surface of the teeth. Also, shoving toothpick deep within the crack of your teeth causes the teeth to shift and form gaps.
9. Inadequate Hydration
Proper hydration is an under-appreciated secret for healthy teeth. When brushing is not an option, drinking a glass of water helps wash away the food particles, bacteria, and acid from your mouth.
Drinking water after consuming stain-causing foods (like red wine or coffee) will also rinse away the tannins and other stain-causing chemicals, keeping your teeth whiter.
Like your body, your teeth can also become dehydrated, due to inadequate hydration or mouth-breathing. Proper hydration will keep your teeth (and gums) healthier and stronger.
10. Drinking Too Much Coffee
Like cigarette and tobacco smoking, coffee can also stain your teeth. Adding more sugar and drinking several cups of coffee every day can turn your teeth dull and yellow in colour. Sugar can also increase your risk of tooth decay.