5 Damaging Dental Habits to Avoid

Behavior that Negatively Affect Dental Health

5 damaging dental habits to avoidJust about everyone has some sort of bad habit. For some, it is mostly harmless. However, for others, that behavior can be negatively affecting your dental health.

Oftentimes, we don’t even realize how damaging certain habits can be to us. This list can help you understand what behaviors you should be avoiding and why they can be detrimental to your dental health.


This is probably the most commonly discussed bad habit because of its highly damaging effects on the body. Smoking not only affects your overall health, but it can also cause serious damage to your oral health as well. Here are some of the ways smoking can negatively affect your mouth:

  • Bad breath
  • Discoloration of the teeth, which basically means your teeth can become a nasty yellow color, despite regular brushing and flossing.
  • Bone loss in the jaw, which can lead to more serious oral health problems like tooth decay
  • Increased build up of plaque, tartar, and bacteria in the mouth
  • Increased risk of developing gum disease or oral cancer

The only way to ensure you don’t cause damage to your mouth by using tobacco is to quit smoking completely.
Your teeth, lungs, and body will certainly thank you!

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Foreign Objects in the Mouth

This can also be described as using teeth as tools. Basically, it just means that if it’s not some type of food or drink, it doesn’t belong in your mouth!

Dr. Acosta finds that it’s not uncommon for patients to use their mouths to rip open bags, open containers, and even clean or trim your nails. This can not only damage any dental work or even chip or scratch your teeth, but it also introduces unwanted bacteria into the mouth. These foreign objects, including your nails, are dirty and can all carry germs that can cause infection in the mouth or even get you sick. If you are a nail biter or have a habit of opening items with your mouth, you should have a dental assessment performed to determine the state of your teeth and gums.

Thumb Sucking

This has been some controversy over this, as some patients as reluctant to believe there is a correlation between thumb sucking and poor dental health. Most commonly, children and babies use thumb sucking as a calming or comforting technique. For the most part, this is totally normal and not an immediate cause for concern. However, once the permanent teeth begin growing in (typically around the age of 3 to 5), sucking thumbs in children can affect the skeletal development of the jaw. It can also cause speech and respiratory problems in some children.

Some adults may also be in the habit of sucking their thumb or other fingers for prolonged periods of time. Similar to inserting foreign objects into your mouth, sucking your thumb can damage your oral health due to the transfer of bacteria from your hands to your mouth. Stopping the habit can help ensure you don’t experience any of the unpleasant side effects.

Brushing Too Hard

We all want our mouth to be nice and clean, but if the cleaning process is affecting the strength of your tooth enamel, it’s not worth it! Believe it or not, using a hard-bristle toothbrush unnecessarily or simply applying too much pressure during your daily brushing routine can negatively affect your oral health.

For example, bearing down roughly when brushing can lead to sensitive teeth, which can be irritating and even painful to live with. Hard bristled brushes or heavy pressure can wear away at your tooth enamel and cause gums to recede. If you are uncertain of how to choose a proper toothbrush, talk to your dental care provider for useful tips on keeping a beautiful smile.

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Eating Ice

This may seem like a silly one for those who don’t indulge in this habit, but for others, chewing ice can be close to addicting! Crunching and eating ice can be exceptionally refreshing during the hottest seasons, but Dr. Acosta advises patients to avoid chewing on the ice.

For patients who use it to hydrate and cool themselves down, he recommends letting slivers of the ice melt in your mouth. Additionally, for those who are craving a crunch, Dr. Acosta advises turning towards something cold and edible like a carrot or apple slice, instead. If you are finding it especially difficult to stop your ice chewing habit, be sure to talk to your primary care physician, as it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition known as iron deficiency anemia.

Keep Up With Dental Hygiene

Crossing any bad habits off your list can seriously help to improve the quality of your oral health and will help you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile. At Acosta Dental Arts, PA we offer our patients comprehensive dental services, including teeth cleaning, restorative dentistry, and more! Contact our office in North Palm Beach, FL to schedule your Free Smile Assessment today!

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