Oral Health Habits to Ditch in 2016

The new year is right around the corner, and chances are, you’ve started to think about this year’s resolutions. Whether you’re wanting to shed a few pounds, quit smoking, or get your home organized, the fresh start that is promised at the beginning of a new calendar year is a great chance to resolve to be a better version of yourself. We support any and all resolutions you might have, especially those that involve improving your health, but we’d also like to urge you to consider some of these not-so-traditional resolutions that can help improve your oral health. Here’s a look at six common habits that you can resolve to break in 2016.

Nail Biting

This habit-forming activity is often a sign of nervousness or anxiety. According to a recent article from MouthHealthy.org, it can also impact your jaw. “Placing your jaw for long periods of time in a protruding position can place pressure on it, which is associated with jaw dysfunction,” stated Dr. Ruchi Sahota. To break the habit, try bitter-tasting nail polish, or hold something in your hands during a trigger situation to keep your fingers busy. Set small realistic goals, and try reducing stress levels.

Brushing Too Hard

While the most important habit to form with tooth brushing is to brush two minutes twice a day, another to pay close attention to is how hard you brush. “Brushing with a hard toothbrush, or brushing too hard, can damage teeth and irritate gums,” said Dr. Matthew Messina. Try using a soft toothbrush, and focus on giving your teeth a massage as opposed to scrubbing them.

Grinding and Clenching

A habit many do in their sleep, this can be a tricky one to break. Chipping and cracking of the teeth can result, as well as muscle tenderness and joint pain. In addition to a nighttime mouth guard, relaxation exercises before bed can help.

Chewing Ice Cubes

“Tooth enamel is a crystal. Ice is a crystal. When you push two crystals against each other, one will break,” Dr. Messina said. “Most of the time it’s the ice, but sometimes the tooth or a filling will break.” If the temptation to chew ice is too great, try drinking chilled beverages without ice, or use a straw. The risk of chewing ice is far greater than the pleasure you get from it.

Constant Snacking

Grazing on snacks, especially sugary foods and drinks, significantly increases your risk of developing cavities. Instead, eat balanced meals at set times each day. If you must snack, make sure it’s a low fat and sugar option. When you do indulge in the occasional sugary snack, follow with a glass of water to help wash away leftover food.

Using Your Teeth As Tools

Your teeth are meant for eating and chewing, not for opening things or holding things while your hands are full. Using your teeth for things other than eating puts you at a higher risk of cracking your teeth, injuring your jaw, or accidentally swallowing something. Before using your teeth as tools, stop and look for something that can offer assistance. Your mouth will be much happier, which will always make you happier in the end.

From the dental professionals at Miami Dental Sedation Spa, we wish you the happiest of New Years. Stay safe and be sure to drop by for a visit (or two) in 2016.

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