The Worst Oral Habits

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Most people know that if they practice good oral habits, they are more likely to have healthy teeth and gums. Some examples of good oral habits include brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist every six months for an exam and cleaning. However, maintaining your oral health is not only practicing good oral habits, but also avoiding bad oral habits that can be potentially damaging to your oral health. While a bad oral habit could be anything that has a negative effect on your oral health, here are the most common worst oral habits: 


Bruxism is the term used to describe grinding or clenching one’s teeth together. This habit is usually brought about by stress and occurs while sleeping. For this reason, many people are unaware that they grind or clench their teeth until their dentist points it out to them. As you can probably imagine, grinding your teeth against one another and/or holding them tightly together places a great deal of strain on your teeth, as well as your jaw joint. Because of this, people with bruxism are significantly more likely to chip or fracture their teeth. Bruxism can also eventually result in temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). To protect your teeth and jaw from the complications associated with bruxism, your dentist will likely recommend wearing a special mouthguard at night, known as a nightguard. Night Guards are placed over the teeth in order to protect them, decrease bruxism, and properly position the jaw. 

closeup of woman with lipstick opening a bottle in her mouth

Using Your Teeth as Tools

Another damaging habit is using your teeth as tools. Despite the fact that enamel is the strongest substance in the human body it can still be damaged, especially when your teeth are used for things that are not chewing or biting food. Using your teeth as tools not only puts you at risk for damaging your teeth, but it can also strain your jaw joint as well. Therefore, you should never use your teeth to open bottles or packages, cut things, or hold things. 

Brushing Too Hard

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot properly clean your teeth by scrubbing them. This is because brushing and flossing are only intended to remove plaque, which is extremely soft. Tartar, on the other hand, is hardened plaque that cannot be removed by a toothbrush and requires special dental tools. Most stains also cannot be removed by a toothbrush and require teeth whitening treatments. As a result, brushing your teeth too hard only causes damage to your enamel, as well as your gums. If your gums have started to recede or your toothbrush bristles fray outwards, then you may be brushing your teeth too hard. 

Biting Your Nails

Like bruxism, nail biting is a habit that is often brought on by stress. In addition to being extremely damaging to your nails, nail biting also increases the risk of chipped teeth. Not only that, but the position that nail biting puts your jaw in places excess strain on the jaw joint that can eventually lead to TMD. Painting your nails with a bitter nail polish can help to stop the habit, as well as fidgeting with something in your hands while anxious. 

close up of red lips and white teeth biting down on ice cubes

Chewing on Ice

Many people love chewing on ice cubes, especially as the weather warms up. However, chewing on ice is problematic because of its structure. Both ice cubes and tooth enamel have crystalline structures, which means that one of these structures must break when they are forcefully rubbed against one another. The ice cube is usually the structure that breaks, but sometimes tooth enamel or dental restorations can break instead. To reduce the temptation of chewing on ice, try drinking with a straw. 

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