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Don’t Do These 7 Things If You Want Strong, Healthy Teeth

Bad Habits That Can Ruin Your Teeth

Thanks to gadgets like electric toothbrushes and water flossers, taking good care of our teeth has never been easier. Unfortunately, many of us have bad habits that are likely undermining the benefits of daily flossing and brushing!

In order to ensure our healthy habits aren’t going to waste, today we’ll be exploring 7 bad habits that can ruin your teeth. By keeping up your good habits and eliminating these bad ones, you can feel confident that you’re protecting your smile and keeping your mouth healthy! :-)

7 Bad Habits That Can Ruin Your Teeth

ruining your teeth

1. Not Drinking Enough Water

If you aren’t drinking enough water every day, you’re not doing your teeth any favors. Dehydration can contribute to dry mouth, and according to the American Dental Association, dry mouth can lead to dental decay, enamel loss, tooth sensitivity, and other conditions.

To keep yourself properly hydrated, make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day. Cut back on caffeinated drinks and other non-water beverages if necessary, and replace them with water to help keep your teeth healthy!

ruining your teeth

2. Biting Your Nails

In case you needed another reason to keep your hands away from your face, consider this: nail biting can ruin your teeth! When you bite your nails, you’re putting unnecessary stress on your jaw and wearing away the enamel on your teeth.

Need a little help kicking the nail biting habit? Try applying a bitter-tasting nail polish, and work on reducing your overall stress levels.

ruining your teeth

3. Brushing Too Vigorously

While brushing your teeth is vital for keeping them healthy, it’s possible to take it too far! Brushing your teeth too vigorously can wear down the protective enamel layer, promoting cavities and tooth decay.

Instead, think of brushing your teeth as a massage for your mouth! Use gentle strokes and a soft-bristled tooth brush to make sure your brushing habits are helping, not hurting.

ruining your teeth

4. Chewing Ice

Chewing on the ice in your drink may seem like an innocuous habit, but the consequences can be surprisingly dire! Ice is very hard—hard enough to chip teeth and break fillings, in fact!

Other long-term effects of chewing ice include jaw pain and tooth sensitivity. Avoid chewing ice as much as possible to help protect your teeth.

5. Smoking

In addition to other harmful health effects like oral cancer and respiratory disease, smoking is bad for your teeth too. Smoking increases the amount of plaque and bacteria on your teeth, often leading to gum disease and even tooth loss.

And while stubborn surface stains and bad breath aren’t quite as bad as gum disease, they’re not problems you want to deal with either! The ADA suggests exercising, chewing gum, and staying busy as useful methods for quitting smoking.

ruining your teeth

6. Using Your Teeth As Tools

We’ve probably all used our teeth at some point to open a stubborn bag of chips or to rip a piece of packing tape. But using your teeth as tools can easily lead to chipped teeth, broken fillings, and even mouth injuries!

Keep several pairs of scissors handy around the house to dissuade yourself and your family from using your teeth to open or rip things.

ruining your teeth

7. Brushing Too Quickly

Are you brushing your teeth long enough? The ADA recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 full minutes each time. Brushing for 2 minutes removes more plaque, and gives the fluoride in your toothpaste enough time to do its job.

Many electric toothbrushes have built-in timer features, which buzz while you brush to let you know how much time has gone by. My Waterpik toothbrush does this, and I love that I never have to wonder if I’ve brushed long enough!

Have you ever broken a bad habit that was bad for your teeth?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • My granddaughter caught me opening a bag with my teeth and said, “Grandma, your teeth are jewels, not tools!” I think of that every time I am am tempted to do that, and get out the scissors. :)

  • The ice and nail biting don’t make sense. The tool doing the damage — my teeth — can’t be harmed by the softer thing. If they are, they are already too soft (i.e., week and damaged)

    • Most people bite their nails with their front teeth which have thin edges and can be worn down over time. Ice can actually break off cusps of molars, the largest teeth. I’ve had many patients who have needed crowns on their back teeth from chewing ice. I’ve also had patients who have broken molars by chewing their half popped popcorn kernels at the bottom of a bowl or bag.

  • One bad thing is bobby pins. I doubt anybody uses them anymore but, as a kid, Mom would curl our hair with them. I was old enough to do my own and used my teeth to open them. Fortunately, I got out of pincurls and bobby pins.

  • I would also add that chewing on the not fully popped popcorn kernels at the bottom of a bowl or bag is dangerous for teeth. As a practicing dental hygienist, I have seen many broken teeth from patients doing this. It’s an expensive habit because usually the only treatment is a new crown. Another harmful habit I have seen is people who chew lemons from drinks. The enamel easily erodes from the acid and often a crown is the only treatment. I see this most often on the upper four front teeth which have thin enamel to begin with. Hope this information helps!

  • Yup, quit smoking 3 years ago all on my own not using anything more than licorice root sticks to chew on for about 3 weeks (not so sure it was so great for my teeth but the saliva helped soften the sticks to chew on them without breaking anything). Have done this three times now in my life. For me, it was just making the decision and wanting it enough, although this last time it was more for economic reasons (cigarette tax went up again in CA pushing the price too high to continue). I’ve already broken a few teeth in the last ten years and one is cracked and broken even now, and had two removed (in the back). Dentist also told me brushing too hard can crack and break teeth, so I consciously have to ease up when I brush now. I don’t chew gum, hard candy, taffy-type stuff, candy licorice (though I Love it) just in case… I do eat raspberries and blackberries, though, and need to be careful of the seeds, but I won’t give them up! ;-)

  • Sorry. I have to disagree about the crooked teeth. Mine were hereditary. My mom had to have braces too. My sister and I both also inherited a gap from my dad. That was corrected by a procedure which a small muscle is clipped to close it.

  • Teeth-grinding and tongue posture! My bad habit over my lifetime has been clenching and grinding my teeth in my sleep. I wore a night guard from my 20s until into my 40s and even went through several as the custom guards were chewed down and smashed. I even had to have fillings for the wear facets that had developed in my molars. Finally my dentist convinced me to have bite correction work done, which meant braces even though my teeth had always been mostly straight. Over a period of 30 months my bite was changed so that my front teeth meet first when I bite down rather than my back teeth (as well as minor cross-bites being corrected), so I should be able to keep the enamel I have left. My jaw muscles also naturally atrophied somewhat with disuse so that my face looked like it had lost weight.

    Over the course of this procedure I learned about the importance of tongue posture, which is the resting position of the tongue when one isn’t chewing or speaking. The idea was developed by Dr. John Mew and his son Mike Mew now carries the torch, as it were. The basic idea is that the tongue should be in the roof of the mouth, from the “bump” behind the teeth as far as possible back onto the soft palate. This supports the maxilla (upper jaw) and facilitates good breathing through the nose as well as the proper spacing of teeth. If I’d known about this as a child I might not have spent 20 years subconsciously trying to support my maxilla with my jaw muscles and my teeth would be in much better shape. Many children end up with crooked teeth because they don’t learn how to position their tongues or use them correctly in chewing and swallowing.

    When my braces came off I decided to undergo myofunctional therapy to learn how to use my tongue as a stand-in for a retainer, and my teeth have maintained their new positions for over a year now. It’s really an unknown concept here in the South as there are no dentists or orthodontists that incorporate this idea into their treatment plans. But an ounce of prevention is worth more than its weight in gold as many problems can be prevented entirely if children learn correct tongue posture at an early age. (It also promotes a more aesthetically-pleasing facial profile.) Those developing crooked teeth can still be helped with a combination of braces and orthotropics (you can look that up), and even adults can benefit from the improved breathing and aesthetic benefits. Look up “tongue posture,” “Mike Mew” or “orthotropics”. There’s more info available now than when I first came across the concept, and I imagine we’ll be seeing a paradigm shift in the next few years.

    • I also apparently brush too hard as I’ve had to have several fillings to cover exposed roots where my gumline has receded. If it’s not one thing it’s another, I guess.

  • I am guilty of crunching on ice, a habit I am trying to break, but my granddaughters broke me of the habit of opening things with my teeth. They kept telling me, “Grandma, your teeth are jewels not tools!” I always think of their advice when I’m tempted.

    • Sorry to disagree, but i asked my dentist about this; since i am an ice chewer from childhood and he said our teeth are waay stronger than ice. I cant be sure about the effect of ice chewing on fillings but i suspect that if a filling is affected by ice chewing there were other factors involved.

      • Just not true. I have had several of my patients come in with broken or chipped teeth from ice chewing.

      • He/She may have had soft teeth, which are more easily damaged by chewing ice or other hard objects, such as sour balls.

    • I was a horrible ice chewer. All day long at work, and all night long at home. Went to doctor. and he gave me a script for iron. Chewing ice stopped almost immediately.

      • True, Marie, as I chewed ice when I was pregnant, and yes, I had low iron due to fibroids and very heavy menses, when not pregnant. I had three children and shortly there after a hysterectomy for the fibroids, the ice chewing stopped.

    • I chewed ice for years. I actually was up to about 20 lbs. of ice a week! Turns out, I was anemic! Once I dealt with that issue, I quit chewing ice immediately. Sounds strange, I’m sure, but it was quite real in my case. I broke 2 teeth and cracked several others during the time I chewed ice.

  • Such an important post. Dentists are not seeing patients (my dentist at least). If you. have a loose filling or cracked tooth, baby that tooth

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