What Are the Most Common Bad Oral Health Habits?

The Woodlands and Houston, TX

It is not uncommon for many of us to develop at least a few bad habits over the years when it comes to our teeth and oral health. In fact, many people don’t even realize that they’ve picked up some of the bad habits that they have. Here’s a quick list of some of the most common bad oral health habits:

Bad Brushing Habits

There are plenty of bad habits that can develop when it comes to brushing our teeth. One of the most common is not brushing your teeth long enough, ideally 2-3 minutes as most dentists suggest. Your brushing technique is also important. Many people just use a quick back and forth pattern when brushing, but making a circular motion with toothbrush will offer you a better a result.

Aggressive Brushing

Aggressive brushing is one of the habits that people knowingly have because they think that it’s helping them clean their teeth better. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as brushing too hard can actually harm your teeth. Over time, heavy brushing can wear away at the protective layer of enamel on your teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities and tooth sensitivity. Those who brush heavily need to be aware of the signs of gum disease, as they can easily overlook them by just attributing them to heavy brushing, and not the actual cause. So how hard should you brush your teeth? It’s simple, be thorough, but gentle!

Using a Hard-Bristled Toothbrush

Along the same lines as the previously mentioned bad habit, is using a hard bristled toothbrush, which people often think will do a better job of cleaning off the surface of their teeth. Again, this is not the case, especially in older individuals who are more prone to having their gums recede which can eventually lead to the wearing away of the layers of the tooth the cover the root. When this happens it is possible to develop severe tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. It is recommended that people opt for a softer bristled tooth brush and that they replace it around every 3-4 months.

“Forgetting” to Floss

When many people get asked by their dentist how often they floss, they give the standard “I floss, I just seem to have forgot to lately”. This is typically the roundabout way of saying that you flat out don’t think to floss, which happens to almost everyone from time to time. It’s important to remember that brushing alone is not enough to keep your teeth healthy, flossing is critical for your oral health and to maintain a beautiful smile. You should floss at least once a day, preferably before bed to remove all the food debris and plaque that has accumulated in between teeth throughout the day which brushing can not reach.

Chewing Things You Shouldn’t Chew

Many of us almost reflexively start chewing on random things throughout the day without even giving a second thought. This chewing on things such as pens, pencils, our fingernails, etc can all lead to unnecessary tooth damage and wear. In addition to the excess wearing down of your teeth, all the bacteria that has come into contact with those objects gets introduced straight into your mouth!

Using Your Teeth for Non-Teeth Things

What do many people turn to when they need to open a bottle or open something quickly? Their teeth! This is an all too common dental offense. It’s important for people to understand that our teeth are not designed to function as a pair of scissors, wrench, or bottle opener! This can be extremely rough on teeth, causing trauma and even weakening the edges of teeth enough to chip off or fracture. This is especially true if you have existing dental work!

Grinding Your Teeth

As discussed in a previous blog entry, grinding your teeth can wreak havoc on your smile. This is especially true for those who have TMJ problems or grind and clench their teeth while they sleep. Fortunately, the best solution for this bad habit is a simple one. Most dentists can easily custom fit you a Night Guard to wear while you sleep and prevent any further damage.

Chewing Ice

Although it may seem like a fairly harmless habit, chewing ice can actually be damaging to your teeth since constantly chewing on ice puts a lot of added stress on teeth. This is why using crushed ice is preferred to large cubed ice, especially for those who simply love chomping on their leftover ice when they finish a drink. But even crushed ice is still ice, therefore chewing on crushed ice should still be avoided when possible. Teeth are more prone to fracture due simply to the coldness and brittleness of ice cubes, as well as microscopic surface cracks in the enamel that can lead to more severe problems if left untreated.

Food and Drinks That Stain

Eating and drinking things such as red wine, coffee, soda, and juices that stain your teeth all have an adverse effect on the appearance of your teeth and leave you with a discolored smile that gives you an aged appearance. Also, consuming acidic foods or drinks can easily wear down the layer of enamel that protects your teeth. This is why it’s important to regularly brush your teeth and at least try to rinse your teeth with a few sips of water after drinking things such as sodas, coffee, and red wine.

Tobacco Use

Using tobacco products is easily one of the worst and most damaging habits for your teeth.Smoking and tobacco products have many detrimental oral health effects, including: staining your teeth, causing dry mouth that often promotes oral bacterial and plaque development, and makes you up to 4 times more likely to develop periodontal disease and oral cancer. This is the one bad habit that every dentist will strongly urge you to outright quit.

“Forgetting” to Visit Your Dentist

Similarly to how people naturally seem to neglect flossing, the same seems to happen with people and their scheduling of regular dental checkups and cleanings, which need to be done 2-3 times per year in order to maintain an optimal degree of oral health. One of the main reasons that many people seem to avoid the dentist, is that they simply have an unnecessary aversion or anxiety causing fear to dental procedures. Fortunately, even people such as these have no need to go unseen by a dentist since there is the wonderful option of sedation dentistry that so many people can benefit from.

If you have any concerns regarding the effects bad oral health habits have on your smile, or want to know more about Sedation Dentistry options, feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment or let us know during your next dentist visit and Dr. Scott Young and his staff will be more than happy to answer any of your questions. Scott Young D.D.S. and his team at Woodlands Dentistry serve The Woodlands, Houston, Kingwood, Spring, and Conroe areas.