A habit can be defined as a fixation or dependency on an item (such as smoking or overeating); or an action (biting fingernails or grinding your teeth). When your daily routine involves habits that can be injurious to your teeth, your dentist can fill you in on the do’s and don’ts to protect your dentition.
Brush at least twice per day with a fluoridated tooth paste or gel; visit your dentist twice per year for a thorough cleaning and dental exam; limit sugary snacks and beverages; drink sufficient quantities of water daily; get plenty of exercise; and enjoy a good night’s sleep. Many of these things contribute to overall good health, which will aid in great dental health as well.
Chewing items such as pen caps or pencil tops; biting or chewing on ice or hard items like rock candy; using teeth to rip open packages; trying to open bottles with teeth. These are habits that are external, and can be prevented with a conscious effort.
Biting fingernails is a habit usually initiated in childhood; many outgrow this habit eventually, but for those that don’t whether young or old, the damage it could be doing is substantial. Teeth can be chipped or dental enamel worn; soft oral tissue can be cut. And the ingestion of the germs found under fingernails has the potential to make the patient ill or result in infection.
More difficult to deal with are problems associated with a dental malocclusion such as teeth grinding or jaw clenching. However, even if teeth are perfectly matched, problems with grinding can be attributed to anxiety or stress. A grinding or clenching habit most often gets it start during periods of sleep. This may make this habit more difficult to identify; however, your dentist has a solution. Wearing a mouth guard while sleeping will help to resolve this subconscious habit.
Habits can be broken, but they generally take a conscious effort. In addition to that, sometimes actions like chewing sugar free gum or sucking on sugar free candy can bring awareness of the problem and help break the habit.
Your dentist has many suggestions to help you overcome negative habits. At your twice yearly dental visits, our team can help identify problems and provide solutions to keep your teeth and gums healthy for life.