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3 Bad Habits That Damage Your Teeth

Girl with lost tooth
While most people are familiar with the fact that lifestyle choices like smoking can impact the health of your smile, some people don’t realize that other simple choices can also damage your teeth and gums, leaving you with urgent dental problems. Here are three bad habits that damage your teeth and how to stop while you're ahead.

1. Biting Your Nails

Whether you developed the habit as a child or starting chewing your nails as an adult out of sheer anxiety, biting your fingernails can be just as hygienic as it is damaging to your teeth and gums.

In addition to exposing your delicate gum tissue to the sharp edges of your nails, loose nail fragments can become lodged between your teeth and gums when you bite your nails, which can cause problems like infections. Moreover, chewing your nails also exposes your teeth to the strain of chewing through tough keratin, while also increasing your risk of tooth concussions.

You never know when a nail will break while biting it, and your teeth could knock together while biting your nails, which could cause internal bleeding inside of your tooth. If you suffer from a dental concussion, your teeth might appear discolored or mottled, making your smile look damaged or dirty. The teeth can also crack or chip when exposed to high forces, and you could be left with teeth that are jagged or contain exposed nerves.

If you are a lifetime nail biter, make a goal to stop chewing on your fingers, and talk with your dentist about tools that might be able to help. Some patients use special nail polishes that have a bitter flavor, while others use special oral appliances to make biting nails more difficult.

2. Skipping the Mouth Guard

When your friends start a game of pick up ball, you might be more focused on getting in a great workout or showing off your stuff than you are about dental care. Unfortunately, accidents can happen in an instant that can leave you with permanent dental damage.

Because contact sports like basketball, football, and hockey can be so hard on the smile, dentists recommend using a custom-fitted mouth guard to spread out impact and cushion the teeth. In addition to protecting the teeth and gum tissue from dental fractures, chips, and oral lacerations, mouth guards also have the added bonus of stabilizing your neck and jaw, which can actually protect you against brain damage.

In a study conducted on high school football players, participants who were wearing cheaper boil-and-bite mouth guards were more than twice as likely to sustain concussions than their peers who were wearing custom-fitted guards, largely in part because the better mouth guards were more effective at absorbing shock. 
Additionally, custom mouth guards tend to be more comfortable, making it easier for people to pop them in and play aggressively without worrying. If you like to play sports, keep a mouth guard handy in your car or office drawer so you always have protection when you need it.

3. Opening Packages With Your Teeth

Scissors aren't always available, but your teeth are — at least for now. Oftentimes, people are tempted to bite plastic tags, foil packages, and even bottle caps to open food items, remove tags from clothes, or take a sip of their favorite drink. But these actions can seriously put your teeth at risk.

In addition to exposing your mouth to germs, opening things with your teeth can put a lot of extra strain on your dental enamel and tooth roots, which could cause chips or even avulsed teeth. To prevent dental damage, always keep a pocketknife of a pair of scissors handy, and remember that your teeth or gums could suffer tremendously if you aren't careful.

You never know how your daily habits have affected your teeth, so make an appointment with Moana Dental Care. With state-of-the-art dental services like same-day crowns and antibiotic treatments for periodontal disease, our dental practice can help you to reach your smile goals. Schedule an appointment today!

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