We completely understand that no one’s perfect. However, some of your bad habits could be putting your oral health at risk.
Dental issues are a common problem. In fact, over 90% of American adults have at least one cavity. Even more troubling, millions are missing some — or all — of their teeth. The sad reality is that good dental habits could have saved most of them.
Here at Wedgewood Dental, Dr. Linda K. Westmoreland provides a wide range of general and cosmetic dentistry services designed to maintain, improve, and optimize your oral health. Dr. Westmoreland also believes the more you know about your teeth and how to keep them strong, the healthier you’ll be at every stage of life.
Below, Dr. Westmoreland shares the most common bad habits that can harm your teeth.
1. Poor daily oral hygiene habits
We know, we know; life is busy, and your time gets stretched thin between work and family obligations — something’s gotta give, right? Unfortunately, too many people let basic dental care slide. Unfortunately, one of the most detrimental habits for your oral health is skipping your daily routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing.
In reality, you don’t reach all of the surface area of your teeth, even if you brush regularly. However, flossing can help reach the other third of tooth surfaces that brushing alone can’t. Plus, it helps eliminate cavity-causing plaque between teeth.
So, don’t skimp on your daily hygiene habits. Instead, brush twice a day, rinse as soon as possible after all meals and snacks, and remember to floss at least once daily.
2. Over-enthusiastic brushing
Too little brushing is bad, but too much can be equally problematic.
While brushing and flossing are crucial, you have to use a gentle touch. Never brush your teeth too hard, floss vigorously, or use a toothbrush with hard bristles. Over time, this rough care can degrade your enamel, making it easier for cavities to form. It can also irritate your gums, putting you at higher risk of bleeding and infection.
To protect your teeth and gums, choose a soft-bristled toothbrush, practice brushing gently in circular patterns, and floss thoroughly but carefully. Dr. Westmoreland can review the basics of brushing and flossing with you if over-enthusiastic brushing or flossing has been an issue.
3. Grinding your teeth
An estimated one-third of Americans grind their teeth (bruxism), especially at night. It’s possible to have bruxism without knowing it, because you grind or clench your teeth while you’re sleeping. Unfortunately, bruxism can ruin otherwise healthy teeth and trigger additional problems, ranging from earaches to face, neck, and jaw pain.
The long-term effects bruxism has on your smile include broken, loose, or worn-down teeth, TMJ disorder, and changes in facial appearance.
Fortunately, Dr. Westmoreland can often spot the signs of clenching or grinding during a routine office visit. In most cases, a mouthguard provides the easiest solution for chronic tooth grinding, and custom-made devices offer a more comfortable fit and effective solution than a store-bought alternative.
4. Chewing or biting on things
Nail biting may seem like it soothes your nerves, but it’s bad for your nails, your teeth, and your overall health. Every time you bite your nails, you ingest harmful bacteria. The biting can also cause your teeth to shift or move out of place, damage or break your dental enamel, and increase your risk of oral infection.
But your nails aren’t the only thing you should stop biting or chewing on. Any hard substance, like ice, hard candy, or plastic pen caps, can cause chips, cracks, or breaks in your teeth. Not only does this damage compromise your oral health, but it also makes your teeth more sensitive to extreme temperatures — like a hot cup of tea or an ice-cold scoop of sherbet.
To keep your teeth safe, stop chewing on non-food items and never use your teeth to open packages or bottles. And, when you eat hard foods, only use your back molars. Making these adjustments can help reduce your risk of tooth damage and promote better overall dental health.
5. Skipping your dental appointments
You should break all of the bad habits on this list. But it’s also essential to make and keep routine dental exams at least twice a year.
Professional dental cleanings and exams can help identify any oral health issues early, which makes it possible to start treatment before the problem worsens.
Rest easy. We make you feel welcome and relaxed at Wedgewood Dental. See for yourself by contacting one of our offices in Rolla or Salem, Missouri, by phone or using the online booking form.