Bad Habits That Can Damage Your Oral Health

Posted by Jenny Spera Dec 27, 2022

This is a thumbnail image of blog Bad Habits That Can Damage Your Oral Health

Good oral hygiene is important for people of all ages. Healthy teeth and gums help us chew our food, speak clearly, and smile confidently. But, failing to practice good oral hygiene can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and other dental problems. It can also affect your overall health. Here are some habits that can damage your oral health.

Nail Biting

Nail biting is a common bad habit that can cause problems with oral health. Your fingernails can damage the teeth' enamel, which protects sensitive dentin from damage. Dentin is a soft material that becomes exposed when the enamel wears away. Enamel does not grow back. This makes biting your nails especially harmful.

If your teeth become damaged or broken as a result of your nail-biting habit, restorative dentistry treatments may be needed to repair them. Damaged or missing teeth can affect your ability to speak and eat properly. They can also cause other health problems, such as jaw pain, headaches, and tooth sensitivity. Chewing and biting with damaged teeth can cause further damage to the teeth and gums.

If you tend to bite your nails compulsively, try to break the habit. If you see the telltale signs that you are about to chew on your nails, try to distract yourself by doing something else with your hands before giving in to your urge. Over time, it will become easier to resist the urge to chew on your fingernails once you break the habit.

Using Teeth As Tools

Did you know that when we use teeth as tools, we risk damaging them? Many people use their teeth to open packages, tear tags off of clothing, crack open nuts, and a multitude of other potential uses. If you do use your teeth for any of these purposes, you are increasing the risk of getting your teeth chipped or cracked. To save yourself from getting tempted to use your teeth as tools, try finding an alternative, like scissors or knives. 

Not Visiting A Dentist Regularly

Most people don't see a dentist until they have a cavity or some other oral problem. However, regular checkups are extremely important to keep your teeth healthy and free of decay and disease. Plaque buildup is the most common cause of tooth and gum disease. During your checkup, we can remove plaque buildup from your teeth, so you don't have to worry about cavities or gum disease. We can also catch problems such as oral cancer early. This is why it's so important to visit your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and cleaning.

Not Brushing Your Teeth Often Enough

Failing to brush your teeth at least twice a day can be damaging to your teeth and gums. This is because plaque will begin to build up on your teeth and harden over time. Plaque is acidic and can cause tooth decay or cavities if it isn't removed in a timely manner, so make sure to brush every morning as well as every night before bed. Skipping out on brushing will increase your chances of developing gum disease as well.


Tobacco use is a habit that can not only take a toll on our lungs but on the rest of our bodies as well. Smokers are 5x more likely to suffer from gum disease than non-smokers. Having chronic gum disease can cause a host of problems, including tooth loss and decay. Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes can also irritate our gum tissue causing gingivitis. This will eventually lead to periodontitis or severe gum disease.

Additionally, smoking can stain your teeth yellow. That's because it's filled with nicotine and tar – both of which have a yellowish hue. Over time, these stains can become permanent if they're not removed with professional teeth cleanings. This is why dentists always recommend quitting smoking. 

Chewing On Ice

We get it. It's cold outside, and your iced beverage is refreshing on a hot day! However, chewing on ice can damage your teeth. The ice is hard against your enamel, which can cause chips or fractures. It's also abrasive to your gums, leading to gum recession and, eventually, tooth loss. In addition, in the time it takes to chew ice, you expose yourself to more harmful sugar from the drink – which can contribute to cavities and other oral health issues. If you're craving that cool, crisp sensation, reach for sugar-free gum instead!

To learn more about ways to maintain your smile, contact Spera Dental at 5190 E. Farness Drive, Suite 102, Tucson, AZ 85712, or call (520) 323-3241.

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