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4 Simple Activities That Can Hurt Your Teeth

Nail Biting
People find themselves with serious dental problems because of simple mistakes they make every day. Here are four activities that can hurt your teeth and a few tips to protect your smile.

1. Biting Your Nails

Fear, stress, and even boredom can prompt people to bite their nails, exposing their teeth and gums to the sharp edges of the fingernails. In addition to potentially cutting the gum tissue and becoming lodged in the space between the gums and the teeth, nail biting can also be hard on the teeth, since you never know where hard nails will break.

When a nail suddenly snaps, it can concuss your teeth together, causing everything from small chips in the dental enamel to painful fractures and even internal tooth damage. Dental work like bonding and crowns can also become damaged during nail-biting, costing patients extra time and money.

If you are a nervous nail biter, talk to your doctor about how to manage your stress levels. If you bite your nails when you are bored, paint your nails with a bitter biting deterrent or ask your dentist about an appliance that makes the process more difficult. Sometimes, even simple retainers can be enough to prevent the temptation to bite your nails, which can protect your teeth.

2. Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Although many people don't even realize they grind or clench their teeth, this subconscious bad habit can cause a long list of dental problems, including root resorption. When pressure is put on the teeth from overnight pressure, the force can start to damage the periodontal ligament, causing the roots themselves to weaken and resorb.

To prevent these kinds of problems, pay attention to small changes in your teeth, including new chips, jaw tenderness, dental work damage, and gum problems. If you discover problems, talk with your dentist about getting fitted for a custom mouth guard. After taking molds of your teeth, your dentist can order mouthguards designed to protect and cushion your teeth overnight.

3. Using Your Teeth to Open Packages

If you choose to skip the scissors or pocketknife in favor of using your teeth to open a package, you might be in trouble. Threads of hardened plastic used to hold tags to clothing and packages can slice through your gum tissue, and packing tape, cardboard, and even aluminum bags can be more difficult to cut than you realize, leading to sudden injuries.

Instead of using your teeth to open packages, always keep a small pair of scissors or a portable pocketknife handy in your car, briefcase, or purse. Instead of using your mouth to open items, use the proper tool and protect your teeth. In addition to avoiding dental emergencies, you might even get sick less, since you won't stick potentially dirty objects into your mouth.

4. Constant Snacking

A snack or two during the day is a great way to give your energy levels a boost, but unfortunately, constant snacking can also be hard on your teeth. Whenever you eat, the pH of your saliva changes, softening your dental enamel. This phenomenon is especially strong if you enjoy sugary snacks, causing softened enamel for as long as 20 minutes after you eat.

To prevent problems, try to limit snacking times, and focus on filling your diet with healthy fruits, vegetables, and grains. Avoid snacks that are high in sugar, such as candies, doughnuts, or cookies, and swish your mouth with clean water afterward to clean away residues. 

Every day, thousands of people unintentionally hurt their smiles by doing things they never thought would harm them. Keep your smile healthy with regular checkups at Eaton Dental. Give us a call today.