Are You Guilty of These Bad Oral Health Habits?

Having a beautiful smile can open a lot of doors. While only 35% of all adults have well-aligned front teeth, many more would like to have straight pearly whites. But it’s just as important to maintain good oral health. If you don’t, you could risk tooth decay or bad breath, as well as a host of other medical conditions, including infections, heart disease, cancer, and even reproductive issues.

With that in mind, it might be time to take a closer look at your oral healthcare habits — and how some bad ones you’ve picked up over the years could pose a real risk to your well-being. If any of these habits sound familiar, you’ll want to work on breaking them to protect yourself from harm.

Nail Biting

Biting your nails may be something you do out of nervousness or boredom, but it can have some pretty big consequences for your teeth. It can exacerbate jaw problems, as well as crack, chip, or wear down your tooth enamel. It’s also not great for your overall health, as nail-biting is an easy way for germs to make their way into your system. For the sake of your well-being, make every effort to kick this habit to the curb. Keeping your nails painted (even with clear polish) or finding another activity to keep your hands busy may help.

Ice Chewing

Although chewing on ice may be something you do without realizing it, it’s important to be aware of the harm it can do. When tooth enamel comes into contact with ice, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether it’ll be the ice that breaks or the tooth. You can easily cause chips or even lose fillings this way. To remove the temptation altogether, chill your favorite drinks in the refrigerator on a regular basis and ask for beverages to be served without ice.

Opening Items With Teeth

You might think of your teeth as a handy tool when stubborn packaging won’t open the way it’s supposed to. But if you’re using your teeth as a stand-in for your scissors, you risk cracking or chipping your teeth, worsening jaw issues, or swallowing something dangerous. If you know you’re inclined to engage in this habit in the kitchen, be sure to keep one or two pairs of scissors nearby. In your office, keep a letter opener handy. Wearing a mouthguard or even bright lipstick during the day could also dissuade you.

Smoking or Vaping

It’s no surprise that smoking is an unhealthy habit. The American Cancer Society pegs the number of new cases each year in the U.S. at approximately 3,000 — and we know all too well that tobacco products can increase cancer risks. Of course, these products can also wreak havoc on your oral health. And if you assumed vapes or e-cigarettes were healthier, think again. Staining, gum disease, bad breath, and premature tooth loss or decay are all risks that accompany smoking. So if you want your smile to impress rather than shock, do everything you can to quit.

Cheek Biting

People of all ages need to obtain regular dental checkups every six months. But if your dentist has chided you for biting the inside of your cheeks, you might not understand what that has to do with your oral health. This nervous habit can occasionally cause pain, but it can also increase your risk of developing ulcers or even oral cancer. It can be a tough one to break, especially if you don’t always realize you’re doing it, but delving into the reasons behind your habit or wearing a bite guard can provide the support you need.

Maintaining proper oral health is paramount for overall well-being. If any of these habits sound familiar, working to eliminate them can put you on the right path to physical fitness.