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Six Harmful Habits that Impact Your Teeth (and Solutions to Help You Avoid Them)

1. Nail Biting

Biting nails can impact your jaw and can even chip teeth. “Biting nails places your jaw in a protruding position, which places unnatural pressure on it. This pressure, over long periods of time, can be associated with jaw dysfunction.

Solution: Bitter-tasting nail polishes and stress reduction can help. If certain situations are triggers for nail biting, hold something to keep your fingers busy.

2. Brushing too Hard

Brushing for two minutes twice a day is one of the best daily habits for the health of your teeth. However, make sure you do not brush too hard as it can damage teeth and irritate gums.

Solution: Use a soft toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance at the proper pressure.

3. Grinding and Clenching

This can cause chipping or cracking of the teeth, as well as muscle tenderness or joint pain.

Solution: A night-time mouth guard, can prevent harm from grinding your teeth at night. If you find yourself grinding or clenching your teeth during stressful moments of the day, relaxation exercises can also help.

4. Chewing Ice Cubes

Tooth enamel and ice cubes are both made up of crystalline structures. When you push two crystals against each other with enough force, one will break. Most of the time it’s the ice, but sometimes the tooth or a filling will break.

Solution: Cracked or broken teeth and fillings are painful and costly to repair. Because the risk of chewing ice is great, avoid it by drinking chilled beverages without ice, or using a straw. Chewing sugar free gum instead is also a safer alternative.

5. Constant Snacking

Eating frequently during day, especially on sugary foods and drinks, puts you at a higher risk for cavities. When you eat, cavity-causing bacteria feast leftover food, producing an acid that attacks the outer shell of your teeth.

Solution: Eat balanced meals to feel fuller, longer. If you need a snack, make sure it’s low in fat and sugar. If you indulge in the occasional sugary treat, follow it with a big glass of water to wash away leftover food, and brush after snacking whenever possible.

6. Using your Teeth as Tools

Your teeth were made only for eating, not to stand in as a pair of scissors or hold things when your hands are full. When you do this, you put yourself at a higher risk of cracking your teeth, injuring your jaw or accidentally swallowing something you shouldn’t.

Solution: Stop and find something or someone to give you a hand.