bdhWe all have some sort of habit. A custom, pattern, practice, ritual, or norm that gets us through the day without even realizing we are doing it…. and a lot of habits that we succumb to have a negative impact on our teeth!


According to the American Dental Association, the top six worst habits for your teeth are nail biting, brushing too hard, grinding or clenching, chewing ice cubes, using your teeth as tools, and snacking throughout the day. Let’s break each one of these down briefly to give you an idea of how your “innocent” habit could be ruining your teeth, and we’ll offer a quick tip to help you resolve it!


To begin, nail biting is a common habit that many find hard to stop because it is so convenient. Your nails are always accessible! This habit can cause gradual chipping away of your teeth and with the prolonged protruding action, it can cause jaw dysfunction. Keeping your nails trimmed, applying bitter nail polish, and holding an object during certain stressful situations can help break the bad habit.


Brushing your teeth too hard can cause gum irritation and damage your teeth. It’s important to be thorough and brush for at least 2 minutes, however remember to be gentle and take your time. To combat this habit, you should always brush with a soft-head toothbrush, or your can invest in an electric toothbrush that has vibration sensors to let you know if you are pressing too hard.


Many people are unaware of their clenching or grinding habit until someone brings it to their attention, often because it happens during their sleep. Clenching and grinding can cause chipped or cracked teeth, muscle and jaw pain, and gradual wear. There are relaxation exercises to help ease tension or pain and appliances you can wear during the day or night to protect your teeth. If you think you clench or grind, let us know at your next appointment so we can discuss a treatment option that is best suited for you.


The satisfactory crunch of chewing ice is not worth the risk of what it can do to your teeth. Ice compromises the structure of your teeth, which can lead to broken teeth and pain that require crowns, root canals, or extractions. Can’t resist the temptation? Try drinking chilled water without ice or using a straw.


Snacking throughout the day puts you at a higher risk of tooth decay. The constant insult and decreased pH that occurs when snacking provides the perfect environment for bacteria to weaken or destroy your enamel and cause decay.  Try to eat balanced, fulfilling meals instead t and make sure you wash down any snacks with a glass of water.


Lastly, teeth are handy when we need a quick pair of scissors, a nut cracker, or even an extra hand to hold something. Although convenient, this habit of using your teeth as tools is a sure way to crack, chip, or lose them! So the next time you need a pair of scissors, don’t use your teeth!


In general, most habits are formed and fueled by stress. Managing stress can help resist the temptation of bad habits. If you have any additional questions or concerns on the well being of your teeth due to a bad habit, Dr. Kimes is ready to evaluate your concerns and discuss specific options that are best for you.