Five Habits to Break for Top Dental Health

father brushing his teeth with his young daughter

Looking to upgrade your dental habits for optimal oral health? Here are five dental habits we recommend breaking to achieve and maintain healthy teeth and gums.

1. Going to Bed Without Brushing

Brushing and flossing twice per day is essential for maintaining positive oral health but skipping dental care at night is worse than not brushing in the morning. This is because food particles have collected on the surface of the teeth throughout the day. Our mouths also dry out during the night, creating a better environment for bad bacteria to multiply. Even when you get home late and feel exhausted, quickly brushing and/or flossing is better than just going straight to bed.

2. Brushing Too Hard

Some patients believe that brushing their teeth aggressively will help to scrub their teeth thoroughly and lead to cleaner teeth, but this is not the case. Brushing too hard can actually damage both the teeth and gums. A common sign that a patient is brushing too hard is that their gums are receding, and their gum line appears lower on the teeth than it used to be. Opting for a soft-bristle toothbrush and gently brushing the teeth is a far better habit that will lead to squeaky clean teeth and positive dental health.

3. Chewing on Ice

Chewing on ice is a somewhat common habit, but it can cause more damage to your teeth than you might think. Crunching on pieces of ice can damage tooth enamel, which can make the teeth more prone to developing tooth decay. In other cases, biting too hard into a solid piece of ice can actually cause one or more teeth to chip or break, and emergency dental care may be required as a result. Patients should also avoid habits like chewing on pen caps, hard candy, and opening tough packages with their teeth.

4. Smoking and/or Chewing Tobacco

Quitting or reducing the amount that you smoke, or chew tobacco is not the easiest habit to break, but the effect that tobacco products have on oral health, as well as overall health, cannot be ignored. In addition to staining the teeth, smoking also dries out the mouth, which increases the amount of bad bacteria and lowers the body’s ability to fight infections. Smoking and chewing tobacco regularly also puts patients at an increased risk of developing oral cancer as well as throat and lung cancer.

5. Not Wearing Oral Appliances

Wearing a custom oral appliance is a simple good habit that can be incorporated into your routine and make a huge difference for your dental health. If you are an athlete, wearing a protective mouthguard during games and practices can prevent dental injuries from being far worse than they could be. Patients who clench and grind their teeth at night can also save lots of time, money, and pain by protecting their smiles with a nightguard. Finally, wearing a retainer at night can keep your teeth aligned post-orthodontic treatment so that your smile can remain straight and beautiful.

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