Bad Habits for Teeth

Chewed Pencil

Everyday Habits can Impact Oral Health

Most of us have a bad habit or two that we’d like to change. Here are some common habits that are especially hard on teeth:

  • Biting or Chewing Non-Foods Items
    Maybe you’ve done it for years with no harm, but each time you bite a non-food object is unnecessary wear and tear, making chips and other damage more likely. If you chew on pencils or toothpicks, bite your nails, or use your teeth as a tool to open things, this applies to you. Instead, combat nervous chewing habits with sugarless gum, and get a nail tool or pocketknife to give your teeth a break!
  • Chewing Ice (and other hard foods)
    Though they may be edible, ice cubes and other hard foods can be just as damaging to teeth. Crushing ice, biting hard candy, and cracking nutshells with your teeth should all be avoided.
  • Clenching and Grinding
    Clenching or grinding of teeth is called bruxism, and it can occur both during the day and subconsciously at night, usually due to stress. Either way, this bad habit can be damaging to teeth. Unchecked grinding can wear down chewing surfaces and weaken enamel, eventually making teeth more prone to fracture. Proper diet, exercise, and a regular sleep schedule can help with the stress, and a custom-fitted nightguard or mouthguard can prevent further damage.
  • Tobacco/Nicotine Use
    Whether you smoke cigarettes or use chewing tobacco, you probably know this is a bad habit in general. And it’s not good for your mouth or teeth either. Cigarette, cigar, pipe smoking, and smokeless tobacco all increase your risk of gum and oral cancers. Vaporizers are the newest trend on the smoking scene, and while there haven’t yet been long-term studies to determine impacts on oral health, it’s safe to say it probably isn’t risk-free. Consider nicotine patches, gum, or wean yourself off to break the habit!
  • Toothbrush Abrasion
    When it comes to brushing teeth, more is better, right? Wrong! Just like anything else, you can overdo it. Excessive brushing, or brushing with too much force, can wear down tooth enamel and irritate gums. It’s called toothbrush abrasion. Dentists recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush for this very reason, and further, emphasize using only minimal pressure while brushing. Try to gently polish your teeth rather than scrubbing and scouring.

About Dr. William J. Black

William Black earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from the University of California, Davis in 1988. He then went on to the UCLA School of Dentistry where he graduated in 1992. Following dental school, Dr. Black served in the U.S. Navy for 3 years as a dentist. He then settled in the Sacramento area where he opened his practice in 1996. Dr. Black is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), California Dental Association (CDA), Sacramento District Dental Society (SDDS), Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), and the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). He is currently pursuing Mastership with the Academy of General Dentistry and accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Black has 8 children, works actively with the Boy Scouts of America, and enjoys gardening.


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