03May

Bad Habits and Your Teeth

by

"Stop it! You're driving me crazy!"

How often has someone asked you to cease and desist from doing something that you had no idea you were doing in the first place? Unpleasant habits can be as tough to break as they are annoying to those around you. However, the degree to which they tend to drive others up the wall could very well pale in comparison with the havoc they are wreaking on your teeth.

The truth is that some habits have a talent for landing people in a dentist's chair far sooner than they might have expected. The worst offenders in this regard include:

  • Ice-chewing. Apart from making a crunching noise that's guaranteed to irritate anyone nearby, the mindless and hard-to-break habit of eating ice presents a special set of dangers. This custom has driven more than one individual straight to the dentist's office for help with teeth that have broken or cracked as a result. Even if your teeth should manage to survive the onslaught, the practice can also irritate dental tissue to the point at which toothaches and sensitivity to hot and cold foods turn into a common occurrence.
  • Fingernail-biting. People who like to chomp on their nails don't always know that they're doing it. However, when the habit persists on a regular basis, your dental health may start to feel the heat. The practice has been known to cause teeth to wear down, crack, chip or even shift from their normal positions.
  • A grinding habit. Although some people do it during the day, tooth grinding or bruxism normally takes place during the night when a person is deeply asleep. Apart from complaints by others who share your room, your only indication of a problem may be the pain you feel in the morning. At 250 pounds of pressure per square inch, the habit can cause the teeth to wear down and eventually disintegrate.
  • Drinking certain liquids. In addition to containing excessive sugar, some drinks are world-renowned for staining the teeth. The list of suspects includes fruit juice, sports drinks, coffee and red or white wine. In addition to gifting your teeth with an aging and unwanted tinge, many drinks that might be healthy in other respects are often acidic in nature. If you can't brush after drinking them, a rinse with plain water might help.
  • Bingeing and purging. Although bulimia presents its sufferers with some well-known physical dangers, the problems the habit can pose to the teeth may be somewhat less understood. When a person regurgitates food, what comes back up from the stomach is filled with digestive acids that wear down the teeth and cause them to rot, weaken and even break off. This physical disorder is hard to fight, and frequent dental visits are essential for anyone who suffers from this problem.
  • Pencil-nibbling. This habit often starts in the early school years, and sometimes it just keeps going. While simple wooden pencils may seem innocuous enough in and of themselves, the habit of munching on them can crack or chip the teeth. Not only that, but the paint that decorates them can also be toxic. A switch to the mechanical variety could help with the problem since they do tend to be somewhat harder to chew.
  • Smoking. Tobacco products do more than simply wreck your heart and lungs. They also stain your teeth, foster gum disease and can sometimes lead to the growth of cancerous lesions on your tongue, your lips and the tissues on your gums and inner cheeks. Since the habit has lost much of its former appeal, why not do yourself a favor and quit?
  • Excessive snacking. When you continually nibble on food, tiny bits of what you've eaten often stick between the teeth and remain in your mouth for hours. Potato chips and other crunchy foods can be particularly problematic in this regard. If you are able or willing to brush after every snack, your teeth will thank you for it. Otherwise, steer away from those starchy, fat-filled snacks and munch on carrot sticks or celery instead.

Habits like these are difficult to break. At the dental offices of Dr. James White, we see the unfortunate consequences all the time. We also have the most up-to-date means of correcting the damage that has already occurred while staving off any that is bound to occur in the future. Don't let your teeth fall victim to these unhealthy habits. Call Dr. White for assistance today.