Identifying Bad Habits That Can Harm Your Smile

For the past 30 years, Nirenblatt Orthodontics has been helping generations of Charleston families achieve healthy smiles that look great and feel good, too. We’re passionate about providing patients with the world-class care they deserve— and the personalized service they need! A big part of that involves correcting misalignments and straightening teeth, but we’re also able to offer patients expert advice on a wide range of orthodontic and dental topics. 

Given our team’s extensive experience, it’s no surprise that we’ve acquired quite a collection of tips for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Although many of these apply mainly to orthodontic patients, one simple piece of wisdom can benefit anyone interested in improving their oral health: figure out what a good dental hygiene routine looks like and stick to it! 

Good oral hygiene is important for everybody, and there are several ways to keep your mouth healthy. One easy way to do this is by reviewing your dental hygiene routine from time to time. Sometimes recommendations can change and it’s good to keep up to date on the latest expert information. There are a few basics that will always stay relevant, however: brushing regularly, flossing daily, and avoiding any bad oral habits that can harm your smile. 

When it comes to the latter, many people engage in some of these habits without even realizing how damaging they can be. To learn more about some of the worst offenders and how they can wreak havoc on your oral health, keep reading below!  

Identifying Bad Habits That Can Harm Your Smile

Rushing through oral hygiene routines

There’s more to an effective oral hygiene routine than a quick brush and floss once or twice a day. To get the most out of your dental hygiene routine, pay attention to the way you brush and floss as well as how often you do it. To keep your smile looking and feeling its best, we recommend following these basic guidelines.

  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Floss every night before bed to remove stubborn food particles and get rid of sticky plaque.
  • Add an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash to eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath and gum disease.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you’ve had a cold or any other illness.

Teeth grinding

The technical term for teeth grinding is bruxism. It’s defined as any involuntary grinding of the teeth that occurs outside of normal chewing, swallowing, or speaking movements. This common habit is relatively is often involuntary with several possible causes, including:

  • stress and anxiety
  • medications
  • certain medical conditions
  • genetics
  • misalignment between the teeth and jaws
  • an abnormal bite
  • missing or crooked teeth

Even if you aren’t aware that you’re doing it, grinding your teeth can cause problems, ranging from interrupted sleep to pain in your jaw, face, or neck. It can also wear down the enamel of your teeth over time. This may lead to exposure of the soft dentin inside them, which can result in painful tooth sensitivity.  

Fortunately, there are several possible solutions for teeth grinding! The first step will be identifying and treating any underlying causes like stress, anxiety, or a misaligned bite. Once these have been addressed, a dentist or orthodontist can fix any existing damage while helping to prevent any further impact. Proactive treatment may be recommended for you as well, which is often as simple as wearing a mouthguard overnight.

Sometimes just being mindful of this habit can help you break it, particularly if it’s a stress response. The next time you feel yourself beginning to clench or grind your teeth, try positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth. Over time, this will train the jaw muscles to relax. You can hold a warm washcloth against your cheek to produce a similar effect.

Chewing on ice or other objects

Do you love crunching on the leftover ice in your cup? Are you prone to nibbling at your fingernails when you feel anxious or bored? Because these habits are so common, people tend to view them as harmless. However, they have the potential to cause real damage to your teeth and gums. For example, the temperature and texture of ice can cause microscopic cracks in the surface of the enamel when you chew it, increasing your chances of developing other dental problems.

Biting your nails or chewing on random objects can also chip away at your tooth enamel. In some cases, it may irritate the soft tissue inside the teeth as well. If you have a hard time breaking this particular habit, it may help to give your teeth something else to do instead! Try popping a piece of sugarless gum in your mouth or look for a healthy snack that comes with a satisfying crunch. Apples, carrots, and celery can be excellent choices, and they’re great for your oral health, too.

Using your teeth as tools

We’ve seen teeth used for a lot of things over the years—ripping open packages, tearing tags off items, even opening a bottle cap! Using your teeth as a tool may save you a few seconds, but it can actually damage them pretty easily. After all, it doesn’t take much to traumatize or chip a tooth. Keep temptation to a minimum by placing simple tools like scissors, nail clippers, and pliers in convenient places around your house. This will help reduce the amount of unnecessary stress on your teeth, keeping them strong and healthy for years to come

Identifying Bad Habits That Can Harm Your Smile

Nirenblatt Orthodontics can help you achieve a healthier smile

Dr. Nirenblatt has decades of experience identifying and treating a range of orthodontic and dental issues. Recognizing bad oral habits is part of that, too! If you’re looking to strengthen your teeth and improve your oral health, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Nirenblatt and the rest of our expert team!