Habits to Stop in Order to Improve Your Dental Health

white smile

We all know that good dental care includes brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day and seeing your dentist every 6 months for a check-up.

However, you could have some bad habits that compromise all the hard work you are putting into brushing and flossing.

Here are four bad habits which you need to stop now to improve your dental health:

1. Sipping drinks and crunching ice

Sipping drinks throughout the day can mean an almost constant exposure to sugar and acid which can cause tooth decay. Ideally, switch the fizzy drinks, squashes, fruit juices, teas and coffees to water. Another option is to use a reusable straw and make sure that the straw is placed towards the back of your mouth – not resting on your teeth so that the drinks bypass your teeth.

Another bad habit is biting on the ice in your ice-cold drinks. The cold temperature and the brittleness of the ice can cause microscopic cracks in the surface of your tooth enamel. These cracks can then lead to bigger dental problems in future.

2. Using your teeth to tear off labels and bite off sellotape

It is a very common habit to use your teeth for a number of things including tearing off the plastic tags on clothes labels, cutting through sellotape or even trying to open a packet.

Another bad habit is chewing the top of pens and pencils. This can be addictive with people doing it every day without even realising it.

All these habits can weaken teeth, eventually causing fractures or chips and can increase the risk of infection.

You can end up permanently damaging your teeth and might need veneers, fillings, crowns or even dental implants.

These bad habits are also damaging for your gums as one slip and you can cut a gum.

Don’t use your teeth for holding items while you are doing something. For example, hairdressers holding hair pins in their mouth while they work or holding the car keys as you take the shopping out of the car and into the house in as it can also wear teeth down and increase bacteria.

3. Smoking

Smoking causes so many life-threatening health problems and this includes a major impact to your oral health.

The reality is that smokers have a 38 times increased risk of developing mouth cancer than people who do not smoke.

Smoking also increases your risk of gum disease, plaque build-up and stains your teeth, giving them a yellow discolouration.

It is the tobacco in cigarettes which is dangerous to your health and bad for your teeth and leads to the discolouration. As declared in the US Surgeon General report, ‘there is no risk-free level of exposure to tobacco smoke, and there is no safe tobacco product.’

The NHS recommends using vaping as a way of giving up smoking. Vaping means smoking e-liquids rather than burning tobacco. E-cigarettes are believed to be a huge 95% less harmful than traditional tobacco.

Smoking tobacco also results in bad breath. Whereas when vaping, there are a variety of e-liquids available that smell fresh like the minty or menthol flavours.

4. Grinding your teeth

Grinding your teeth wears your teeth down. Some people are not even aware they are doing it, particularly if they do it in their sleep.

Grinding your teeth can be caused by a few things such as an abnormal bite, crooked teeth or stress and anxiety. It can also result in headaches and poor quality sleep.

If you think you might grind your teeth, make an appointment with your dentist who will be able to take a mould of your mouth to create a mouth guard to wear at night.

You can also cut back on caffeine and alcohol as these things can increase the likelihood of grinding. Another solution is to put a warm compress on your cheek before you go to sleep at night to relax the muscles. There are some microwavable bean bags on the market and some have the added benefit of soothing aromatherapy.

If you grind your teeth by day, try positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth to train your muscles to relax.

If you grind your teeth due to stress, try to get to the root of the problem to alleviate that stress. There are options out there to combat stress and anxiety, such as counselling – your GP should be your first port of call.

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