You floss and brush twice daily and you make sure to use an antiseptic mouthwash. You may even rinse your mouth out with warm salt water after every meal. You visit the dentist twice a year and never miss an opportunity to brighten your smile. So… why are your gums irritated and your teeth turning yellow?
Good oral habits such as those certainly protect your teeth and your overall oral health but other behavioural patterns can undermine all of the hard work that you’re doing. Bad oral habits—particularly the ones that we do subconsciously—might be the culprit for bad breath and yellowing teeth.
Previously, we looked at the damage to your teeth and gums caused by biting your nails, overly aggressive brushing and using one’s teeth as tools. For the most part, those bad oral habits have a way of grinding down your tooth enamel and increasing your risk of dental injury.
These 3 bad oral habits, on the other hand, can leave you with damage that’s hard to see—until your start falling out one by one.
If you really want a pearly white smile, you’re going to have to kick one of the most notorious bad habits of them all—smoking. Cigarettes and other tobacco products reduce blood flow to your gums and increase your chances of developing gum disease. Tobacco products also decrease the amount of saliva that you produce, encouraging the growth of bad bacteria that can result in bad breath and, once again, periodontal disease.
According to the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Adults aged 65 or older who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to have untreated tooth decay as those who never smoked.” But smoking doesn’t just increase your chances of developing bad breath and cavities. According to the World Health Organization, smoking increases your chances of developing oral cancer by as much as 900%. No, that’s not a typo. You read it correctly; nine-hundred percent.
Smoking is one bad habit that is simply incompatible with a winning smile. For the sake of teeth—and your overall health—put down the lighter and pick up a toothbrush.
2. Biting Your Lip
Some people do it when they’re nervous, other people do it to play coy. But everyone who does it is harming their smile. Biting your lip or the interior of your cheek irritates the sensitive skin in your mouth and can lead to infection.
Furthermore, lip biting frequently results in awkward and unnatural jaw positioning. It is not uncommon for lip biting to worsen malocclusions such as overbites or crossbites and to result in jaw dysfunction.
Oftentimes, this bad habit is a subconscious reaction that those who practice it won’t notice they do until a problem develops. Periodically throughout the day—particularly in moments of high stress or concentration—pay close attention to the positioning of your jaw.
3. Grinding Your Teeth
Teeth grinding—or what your dentist would refer to as bruxism—is a bad oral habit that can affect people both when they are awake and when they are asleep. Generally, bruxism refers to a forceful clenching of the jaw that puts undue pressure on the teeth, gums and jawbone but each study and dentist will define bruxism slightly differently.
Generally speaking, bruxism will result in severe tooth, jaw and gum pain, lip, cheek and/or tongue biting, trismus (or lockjaw) and a whole host of other potential side effects.
Though dentists and researchers haven’t identified definitive or universal causes of bruxism, they do typically point to stress, anxiety, physiological, and genetic factors. From what little we know about the causes of bruxism, the damage to your teeth is clear.
Grinding your teeth can erode enamel, lead to dental injury and increases your chances of developing tooth decay through gum disease and gingivitis. Not to mention, between the lockjaw and the excruciating pain, grinding your teeth makes it incredibly difficult to smile.
Not knowing the cause or causes of an individual’s bruxism makes it difficult for dentists to treat. However, that doesn’t mean that dentists can’t offer any help. Mouthguards and other forms of headgear can prevent or minimize damage to your teeth from bruxism.
Break the Habit with the Help of Your Dentist
Trying to break habits is never easy. That’s especially true when you may not even be aware of what you’re doing. At Applewood Dental, we offer the best dental services in Innisfil to help you break any habit and brighten your smile.