Harmful Oral Habits You Should Pay Attention To

For more than 50 years, Sacramento families have trusted Szymanowski Orthodontics with their smiles. Our expert team is able to provide patients with customized care and long-lasting results thanks to cutting-edge technology and innovative techniques, but we don’t stop there! We also offer our patients guidance and advice on a range of related topics, including oral hygiene. 

Orthodontic patients are more prone to dental issues, and there are certain bad habits that can undermine a patient’s best efforts. These habits aren’t limited to those wearing braces or clear aligners, however—they can affect anyone’s smile!

Harmful oral habits are so common that you could be engaging in one or more of them without even realizing it. While they may seem harmless, any of these habits can compromise your smile and jeopardize your oral health. We believe everyone deserves a smile that’s healthy and happy, so let’s take a closer look at what these bad habits are (and how you can beat them!) Keep reading below to learn more. 

Grinding your teeth

The technical term for teeth grinding is bruxism, and it’s used to describe any involuntary grinding of the teeth outside normal chewing, swallowing, or speaking movements. This is a relatively common habit that has several possible causes, including:

  • stress and anxiety
  • medications
  • certain medical conditions
  • genetics
  • misalignment between the teeth and jaws
  • an abnormal bite
  • missing or crooked teeth

Many people who grind their teeth are unaware it’s happening, especially if it occurs while they’re sleeping. Whether you’re aware of it or not, bruxism can cause a variety of issues that range from interrupted sleep to chronic headaches. Over time, teeth grinding can also wear down the enamel of your teeth. This exposes the soft dentin inside and may result in painful tooth sensitivity.  

There are several possible solutions for this particular habit. The first step is to identify and treat any underlying causes. Once these have been addressed, a dentist or orthodontist can begin correcting any existing damage. Dr. Szymanowski may also recommend proactive treatment to help prevent any further impact. This can often be accomplished with something as simple as overnight mouthguards.

Sometimes just being mindful of this habit can help. If you clench or grind your teeth in response to stress, try to recognize when it’s happening and position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. Over time, this will train the jaw muscles to relax. Holding a warm washcloth against your cheek can produce a similar effect.

Poor oral hygiene habits

How you brush and floss is almost as important as how often you do it. Take your toothbrush, for example. Many people mistakenly believe that a firm toothbrush is better for cleaning teeth, but this can actually cause other issues, especially for older adults. Our gums tend to recede as we age, leaving the roots of the teeth exposed. These roots are covered with something called cementum, which wears away more quickly than enamel. Brushing with firm bristles as an adult can irritate your gums and increase tooth sensitivity.

It’s always a good idea to regularly assess how effective your oral hygiene routine is. Recommendations change from time to time, and you don’t want to miss out on important information. To get the most out of brushing and flossing, try following these simple guidelines!

  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Floss every night before bed to remove stubborn food particles and get rid of sticky plaque.
  • Add an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash to eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath and gum disease.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you’ve had a cold or any other illness.

Sipping on sugary drinks

Frequently sipping on sweet beverages like soda and fruit juice can wreak havoc on your smile. The constant exposure to sugar increases your risk of developing tooth decay, and the acid can wear down the enamel. Over time, this may result in tooth sensitivity and cavities.

Crunching the ice left in your cup can be an issue, too! It may seem like no big deal, but the texture and cold temperature of the cubes can damage your teeth, causing microscopic cracks in the surface of the enamel. Try switching to crushed ice instead of cubes, and drink soda or juices through a straw to minimize exposure to your teeth. Position the straw towards the back of your mouth instead of resting it against your teeth for the best results! 

Using your teeth as tools

You’d be surprised at the things we’ve seen people use their teeth for over the years. We’ve had our fair share of patients popping caps off bottles, ripping tags off clothing, and opening up a bag of their favorite snacks with their teeth. It might seem like these are saving you time at the moment, but using your teeth as tools can actually weaken them. This makes them more susceptible to chipping or fracture and may lead to discomfort, pain, and increased sensitivity. Keep temptation to a minimum by placing simple tools like scissors, nail clippers, and pliers in convenient places so you can use them instead.

Harmful Oral Habits You Should Pay Attention To

Keep your teeth strong & healthy with help from Szymanowski Orthodontics

Dr. Szymanowski spent many years learning how to identify and treat a wide variety of orthodontic issues, including harmful oral habits. As a highly trained and skilled practitioner, he can help you tackle any bad habits affecting your teeth! Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation and take the first step towards a strong, healthy, and confident smile.