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Are You Using Your Teeth for These Too? - main blog image

Are You Using Your Teeth for These Too?

Do you crunch on ice or clench your jaw? Are you wrecking your teeth without even knowing it?

If you suck your thumb or suck on lemons, you are doing your pearly whites wrong. And did you know that biting your nails is not only bad for your fingers; it can actually hurt your teeth, too?

While some of these dental health “don’ts” can do immediate damage to your teeth (by cracking or breaking them), the effects of others may add up over time, harming your dental health in the long run.

Keep the following troublemakers in mind:

Crushing the Ice

Crushing on Ice

Ice cubes may seem harmless, but the cold temperature and the hardness of ice cubes can cause serious damage to your teeth. Our teeth are designed to crush through things, not against something.

Even though crunching ice with your teeth may be easy but keep in mind that your blender needs special blades to crush the ice. Chewing on ice may seem like a harmless activity as it does not have any sugar or calories.

However, chewing on ice often results in cracked and chipped teeth, damage to tooth enamel, problems with existing dental work such as fillings and crowns. You may also find your teeth become extremely sensitive to hot and cold drinks and foods, and are more prone to cavities.

Let off the Lemons

Let off the Lemons

Lemons are very acidic in nature. This acidity corrodes the enamel [outer layer of the teeth]. Repeated exposure to acidic substances can cause tooth enamel to erode, creating a rough texture on the surface of your teeth.

Also the increased consumption of citrus fruits, fizzy drinks, sports drinks, and alcohol can severely damage teeth over a period. These foods and drinks can cause acid erosion which is characterized by thinning and destruction of the tooth enamel which in turn leads to an increase in sensitivity and pain symptoms as well as increased susceptibility to decay. The above condition is non-reversible.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding

For some people, stress can trigger frequent clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth. There can be a severe amount of pressure on your teeth when you do grinding you can get micro fractures or actual fractures in your teeth.

Micro fractures are weakened areas in your teeth that put them at risk for further damage. Jaw clenching or tooth grinding can also damage dental work. Tooth grinding is common which does not discriminate according to age.

Children are just as likely to grind their teeth as adults, but in adult’s stress is often an influencing factor. Unfortunately, most patients who suffer from this condition are unaware of it.

These people do not realize they grind or clench as they are usually doing it subconsciously or in their sleep. They do not recognize until they are informed by the dentist that they have signs of grinding in their mouth.

Do not Brush Too Hard

Donot brush too hard

Brushing your teeth regularly is part of good oral hygiene, but if you brush too vigorously, you can cause more harm than good. Brushing your teeth too hard can wear down enamel, irritate your gums, make your teeth sensitive to cold, and even cause cavities. The bristles of the tooth brush should firm enough to remove plaque, but soft enough not to cause damage.

Heavy brushing over a long period of time with a hard or medium bristled toothbrush contributes to recession of the gums which can lead to severe symptoms of pain and sensitivity. It is necessary to restore these teeth with a filling material to reduce the symptoms and effects of abrasion.

Teeth Are Not Tools

Teeth Are Not Tools

Many people use their teeth to break off a tag on clothing, rip open a package of potato chips, or even unscrew bottle tops. However teeth are meant to help us do three things: Chew food, speak properly, and look beautiful when we smile.

Teeth are not pliers or hooks. Using your teeth as a tool is a threat to dental health and can damage dental work or cause your teeth to crack.

Thumb Sucking


Children who still suck their fingers or thumbs after their permanent teeth start coming in usually around the age of 5 or 6 could be causing permanent changes that affect teeth and jaw structure.

Specifically, thumb sucking can cause a mal alignment of the teeth which can lead to a number of issues, including difficulty chewing and breathing problems so help wean your child off his thumb sucking habit.

Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing

Mouth breathing is when a person breathes using his mouth instead of the nose. Gingival inflammation, enlargement and plaque formation are most commonly seen in the upper front regions of the gums in such cases.

The gums appear red and swollen and crowding of teeth. The cause for this is dehydration due to constant air exposure. Chronic mouth breathing can lead to a long, thin face sometimes termed “long face syndrome”. It could be caused due to an anterior open bite.

Don’t Put Your Pencil between Your Teeth

Dont put pencils between the teeth

Some people have a habit of holding objects such as pens, pencils, or eyeglasses in between their teeth when concentrating on a difficult task. But they might not realize how much pressure they are placing on their teeth as they bite down on non-food objects.

Biting on a pen or a similar object can cause your teeth to shift or even crack and can even break existing dental work that you have in your mouth.

Stop Nail Biting

Stop nail biting

Biting your nails does not just harm the appearance of your hands but it can also damage your teeth and become an oral hygiene issue. People who bite their nails usually do it chronically.

Regularly biting your nails can cause your teeth to move out of place. In addition, nail biting could potentially cause teeth to break or tooth enamel to splinter.

Use Toothpicks Carefully

Use tooth pick carefully

When used properly, toothpicks can help keep the areas between your teeth clean. But if you don’t, you are going to hurt your gum tissue.

The toothpicks that we get in the market today are made up of either plastic or wood. Once in a while when you use it gently it can be fine. But when you use toothpicks frequently and aggressively on your tooth, it can pose danger for both the teeth as well as the gums.

As an alternative one could use water to rinse the mouth immediately after eating any food items or even flossing would help. When you keep poking in between the teeth to remove the food particles left behind, it causes abrasion and also leads to bleeding.

When the toothpick is used at the same spot frequently, it creates spaces in between two teeth. This will further worsen the condition and there are chances of more food items getting stuck in between and lead to cavity formation.

Playing sports without mouth guards

playing sports without sports guard

Sports are harmless until someone gets hurt. That is why sports players usually opt for mouth guards to prevent tooth or jaw damage.

Getting fitted for a custom-fit mouth guard through a dentist keep the teeth protected in case a ball, foot, elbow, or other object hits one’s mouth. This can prevent chipped, dislodged, or loose teeth in addition to other problems.

Custom mouth guards may be pricier than a store-bought one, but they have a better fit, are more secure, and certainly prevent potential dental bills.

As you can see, misuse of your teeth could cause chips and fractures, resulting in unnecessary dental work. It is not that we do not want to see you in the dental office but just do not want to have to treat you in preventable situations! Please try to avoid using your teeth, unless it is for biting or chewing food, of course!

Posted by : Dr Sonam