-Who thought nail biting would be bad for their teeth? “It is,” says Paso Robles dentist, Lisa Lu Davis, DMD. “Nail biting is only one bad habit that can cause dental problems.” There are many more habits that can damage teeth and gums and Dr. Davis has put together a list of those habits as well as some steps to take to break the bad habits.
Along with nail biting, common habits that can damage teeth include using our teeth as tools. Holding something in the mouth to free the hands can lead to cracking or breaking teeth. Tearing a package open with our teeth is highly common. Nail biting, a habit often associated with being nervous or anxious, can not only cause dental problems, it is destructive to cuticles, fingernails and can potentially cause infections.
If nail biting is causing damage or concern, the Paso Robles dentist advises discussing the matter with the family doctor and dentist.
Other bad habits include:
- Thumb sucking, a natural activity for young children, helps babies and toddlers feel secure but excessive or intense sucking can cause problems with the roof of the mouth and newly forming teeth. Discuss thumb sucking with the family dentist and pediatrician.
- Brushing too hard irritates gums and can damage teeth. Use a soft toothbrush and brush for two minutes at least twice a day.
- Clenching and grinding, more common while sleeping, can chip and crack teeth along with creating muscle and joint pain.. Wearing a tooth guard at night can help, and relaxation practices during the day can also help bring more awareness to stopping the habit.
- Chewing ice, especially cubes and chunks, can break and crack teeth. It’s feels nice and cooling to chew up the ice left in a cold summer beverage. Let the ice dissolve in your mouth instead of chewing it. The compulsion to chew ice may indicate the medical condition, pagophagia, that is associated with anemia. Consult with a medical doctor if you feel compelled to chew ice.
- Snacking between meals without brushing, or at minimum, rinsing the mouth, can lead to cavities because food particles attract cavity causing bacteria. Sometimes a snack is too good to pass up, or there’s a long time between meals and you’re hungry. If you need a snack, choose low fat and low sugar, brush or floss if you can, or at least drink a glass of water to wash away food particles.
Germs can enter through the mouth when we eat. Bacteria is always present, even in the healthiest and cleanest mouth. “Good dental care is also a habit,” said the Paso Robles dentist, “but it’s a good habit that helps keep germs under control and have a healthy mouth.”
Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once. See your family dentist for regular check-ups, and especially at the first sign of any problem.
Dr. Lisa Lu Davis attained her Dental Medicine Doctorate (DMD), from Temple University in 1999. Graduating at the top of her class, she received awards in radiology, treatment planning and restorative clinics and was honored with the Hahnemann award for her research in Sjogren Syndrome. Dr. Davis has been practicing dentistry on California’s Central Coast since 2007 from her Paso Robles office.
Lisa Lu David, DMD
2120 Golden Hill Road Suite 103
Paso Robles, CA 93446