Grinding Teeth

Bad Habits that Might be Ruining Your Teeth

Protecting your teeth should be at the top of your priorities when it comes to your overall health. You might be surprised to learn that some common habits are putting your teeth at major risk. If you find yourself doing any of these habits, it’s time to change your ways for better oral health.

Teeth Grinding/ Clenching:

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a side-to-side movement of the teeth, whereas clenching is holding your teeth in one position against each other. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the day is generally caused by anxiety. Others grind/clench at night, not even knowing they are aware of it. Waking up with a headache or sore jaw muscles are possible signs of grinding. Grinding/clenching puts extra stress on the teeth and can wear down the outer layer of your teeth known as enamel. This can change the appearance of your teeth, causing sensitivity and if left untreated, fracture them.

Chewing Ice:

Chewing ice can seem completely innocent, but the seemingly harmless habit isn’t so harmless after all. Ice can be harder than your natural tooth structure, leading to chips or fractures. Extreme temperature change can lead to nerve inflammation causing temperature sensitivity. To break the ice-chewing habit, try cooling your liquids in the fridge or freezer or drink from a straw.

Opening Items with Your Teeth:

Bags of chips, packages and the always cringe worthy beer bottle top can always be the ultimate tooth breaker in dentistry. Your teeth are not tools! These bad habits will definitely lead to broken teeth. If the break is severe enough, start saving for implants as those are the next step to fixing the problem! Take the extra steps to find a bottle opener, scissors, or the proper tools to help you along the way.

Thumb Sucking:

Thumb sucking is considered normal until age 3. Around or after that time, this habit needs to be broken as soon as possible. If not stopped early in development, thumb sucking can lead to permanent changes in the teeth and jaw. Thumb sucking can cause the teeth to protrude too far forward on the top jaw (also known as overjet) or misalignment of the teeth causing an open bite (top and bottom teeth do not come together or bite in the correct position). Formation of the upper palate of the mouth can also be altered, which can lead to speech problems. Thumb sucking also allows for bad germs and bacteria in the mouth. If your child is currently or still thumb sucking, speak to your pediatrician or child’s dentist for the best approach to nipping it in the bud.

Constant Snacking:

You may want to rethink your habit if you’re constantly snacking or consuming sugar-based drinks throughout the day. Snacking allows for sugar to accumulate on your teeth. This habit puts you at higher risk for cavities. Cavity-causing bacteria loves to feast on leftover food particles, creating an acid that feeds on the enamel of teeth. Better strategy: aim for more balanced meals to help keep you fuller for longer. Focus on low-sugar and low-fat meals and snacks. Drink water after eating to help wash away the sugars if brushing isn’t possible at the time.

Brushing too Hard:

Believe it or not, there’s a right way and a wrong way to brush your teeth. Aggressive brushing can wear away the outer layer of your teeth called enamel and can also weaken your gums, providing less support to hold your teeth in place. To avoid harmful brushing, always use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Hard-bristled is way too damaging to all surfaces inside the mouth. The best and most ideal brush is an electric toothbrush. Electric brushes use soft-bristled removable heads, vibrate to help getting further into cracks and crevices between the teeth and are created with a built in two-minute time for full effective brushing time.

Wearing a Mouth Guard:

Wearing a mouth guard during physical contact sports is an absolute must! Not wearing one can lead to devastating tooth/teeth loss. Even wearing a mouth guard during practice is essential. Emphasize the importance to kids and teammates about the importance of sporting a mouth guard.

Nail Biting:

Yikes! Best to stop now! Nail biting can damage the roots and supportive gums holding your teeth in the bone. Here’s some tips on how to cut the habit:
-apply hand sanitizer or lotion to your fingers giving them a bad taste to help remind you not to bite your nails.
-wear thin gloves or a mask until the habit is broken.
-cut your nails short and keep them clean.
-occupy your hands; such as twiddling your thumbs or playing with a small object.


This comes as no surprise that smoking is an overall bad habit. Smoking can be very damaging to your gums and teeth. Smoking leads to bad breath, staining on your teeth, a weakened immune system (leads to increased risk of gum disease, and leads to increased risk of oral cancer).  Speak to your general physician and dentist about the best ways to break the habit of smoking.

Keeping up with good oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist on a regular basis can help keep your teeth healthy for a lifetime. Bad habits can also impact long-term dental health. Make sure to keep up with your regular scheduled treatment and cleanings here at Smile Sarasota and we will help you keep a lovely smile for years to come.