Good oral health is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Proper care of our teeth, gums, and mouth can keep us healthy and reduce our risk of cavities, gum disease, tooth loss, and other oral diseases. Here are a few habits that should be avoided to prevent damage to oral health and your orthodontic devices.
Nail biting is a habit that damages not only our teeth and oral health but also our jaw muscles and joints. When teeth sink too deeply into the soft tissue inside our mouths, it can cause serious damage to that tissue and can result in severe infection or tooth loss. The constant friction of chewing on our fingernails causes thinning of the enamel, which results in increased sensitivity to heat and cold, as well as tooth decay. This habit can also delay the results of your orthodontic treatment.
If nail biting has become a bad habit for you also, consult your dentist as soon as possible to get proper treatment for your oral issues. Opt for guards to protect your teeth against further damage caused by your nail-biting habit.
Cigarettes contain tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide, all of which can stain your teeth and cause bad breath. It can also stain your orthodontic devices - especially clear aligners. The habit can even hinder the braces' ability to align teeth. They also increase your risk of gum disease and oral cancer. Additionally, smoking causes inflammation in the body, which can increase plaque production, which leads to tooth decay. As if that weren't enough, it also affects your sense of taste. That means you'll be less likely to enjoy healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which can affect your general health as well.
If you smoke cigarettes and want to quit, visit your doctor or physician for advice on how to do it safely. Your doctor can also recommend medications that can help reduce your cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
You should also ask your dentist about ways that you can improve your smile once you've quit smoking. For example, professional teeth whitening will remove stains caused by tobacco use, while dental implants can help replace missing teeth.
If you brush your teeth aggressively, it can lead to serious consequences for your teeth and gums. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body—think of it as the armor that protects your teeth from damage. When you brush too hard or too long, you can erode your enamel and harm your smile. In severe cases, this can lead to painful abscesses that require root canals and crowns to fix the damage.
Even worse, aggressive brushing can harm your gums. Overzealous scrubbing can irritate the soft tissues in your mouth to the point where they begin to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth and causing sensitivity and pain. Receding gums can also increase the chances of developing gum disease, which affects about 80 percent of the population at some point in their lives.
By being mindful of your technique, you can protect your smile and prevent serious oral health problems. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently move the bristles back and forth in small circular motions. Focus on brushing the outer and inner surfaces of each tooth—the back surface of the front teeth and the chewing surfaces of the rear molars—and avoid scrubbing too forcefully along the gum line. Finally, don't brush immediately after eating acidic foods and beverages such as soda, orange juice, wine, and tomatoes, which can weaken the enamel on your teeth and make them more susceptible to erosion.
Talk to a dentist about how you can improve your brushing technique and put a stop to chronic overbrushing.
When we're stressed or anxious, we may unconsciously clench our jaws together. This is called bruxism, and it can wear down the enamel of our teeth, leading to sensitivity and even cracked or broken teeth. You may also notice tooth pain in your jaw. If you suffer from sleep apnea, nighttime teeth grinding, also called sleep bruxism, can worsen your symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and interrupt your sleep cycle. Talk to your dentist if you think you may be clenching your teeth during the night. Your dentist may recommend a custom night guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.
Using teeth to open packages or bottles seems like an innocent habit, but it can cause a lot of damage to our oral and dental health. When we use our teeth as tools in this way, we're putting our enamel at risk. Enamel is the hard outer layer that protects the teeth from bacteria that can cause tooth decay. If we chip or crack a tooth, it leaves it vulnerable to infection and decay. Using teeth as tools can also break the wires of orthodontic devices. We'd be wise to avoid using our teeth as tools whenever possible.
Healthy teeth are strong teeth! And the only way to keep those healthy smiles for a lifetime is to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. These visits allow your dentist to diagnose and treat any hidden cavities, gum diseases, and other oral health issues before they can develop into painful problems. Annual checkups also allow you to update and maintain your dental record so that any changes in your dental health can be addressed in a timely manner.
Your smile will be in good hands when you follow the recommendation from the American Dental Association to see the dentist every six months for a checkup and professional cleaning. Regular visits to the dentist's office will not only ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy but will also help you maintain a bright smile and a strong bite for years to come.
If you are interested in learning more about our orthodontic treatments, visit our Bradshaw + Katras Orthodontic Specialists offices in Tennessee.