The Worst Oral Habits

The Worst Oral Habits

Did you know that there are certain habits that can be detrimental to your oral health? A habit is any behavior that is routinely performed by an individual consciously or unconsciously. Habits can be either good or bad, depending on what they are. For example, a good oral health habit is maintaining a daily routine of brushing twice and flossing. Another good oral health habit is attending regular dental exams and cleanings every six months. Unfortunately, however, there are also several bad habits that negatively affect your oral health. The worst oral habits include: 


Biting Your Nails

Not only is this nervous habit extremely destructive to your nails, but it can also be damaging to your teeth and jaw. Constant nail biting can result in chipped teeth, as well as jaw dysfunction. This is because nail biting forces your jaw into a protruding position for an extended amount of time. Over time, this places additional strain on the joint and can eventually lead to dysfunction. To avoid biting your nails, you can try bitter-tasting nail polish or something to keep your hands busy when you feel anxious. 


woman chewing on ice

Chewing on Ice

The crystalline structure of ice and tooth enamel mean that one of them will break when forced together. In most cases, it is the ice that breaks. In some cases, however, it can be your tooth or a filling that breaks. For this reason, it is recommended to drink with a straw if you are prone to chewing on ice. 


Brushing Too Hard

Many people believe that brushing hard or scrubbing their teeth makes them cleaner and whiter in color. Unfortunately, not only is this not true, but brushing too hard is actually extremely detrimental to your tooth enamel and gums. Instead, you should use a soft toothbrush to gently massage your teeth during brushings. 


Grinding and Clenching

Like nail-biting, this habit is also brought on by stress. However, most people grind or clench their teeth while they sleep and may not be aware of it. Regardless, this habit can cause a number of problems such as chipped or fractured teeth, as well as jaw problems. In fact, grinding and clenching is one of the most common contributing factors to temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. Stress management and wearing a dental night guard are two recommended methods for managing this habit. 



Woman biting on bottle cap with her teeth

Using Teeth as Tools

Many people have a bad habit of using their teeth for things other than eating. Using your teeth to hold things, open bottles or packages, or as scissors are all behaviors that can result in cracked teeth and jaw damage. Instead, use the tools that are intended for these purposes. 




As you can see, there are a variety of bad habits that can have a negative impact on your oral health. By avoiding these bad oral habits, you can maintain your oral health and decrease the risk of needing restorative dental care. Instead, focus on practicing good oral habits like brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your local dentist for a semi-annual exam and teeth cleaning. 



Staff of bethesda family dentistry

Dr. Deborah Tabb graduated in the upper 5% of her class, from the Medical College of Virginia in 1982, where she was honored to receive advanced awards for outstanding performance in endodontics, periodontics, and oral surgery. These prestigious awards validated her clinical talent, which she is recognized for today. She is a member of the American Dental Association, the Southern Maryland Dental Society, the Academy of General Dentistry and the Potomac Valley Dental Study Club.


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