Call Now!

girl in front of laptop

15 Bad Habits That Harm Your Teeth

As much as many of us care for our teeth through brushing and flossing, we all resort to bad habits that are
damaging the health of our teeth.

In fact, one may be unaware of how certain drinks, physical activities, and the foods he/she consumes can damage the gums and teeth.

Countless numbers of adults ages 65 and above lost all their teeth because they do not practice a good oral hygiene routine.

Here are the top 15 ways our teeth are harmed that can certainly be controlled and/or prevented:

#1 Opening packaging with teeth

This is a common habit for many. It’s important to note that when you open up packaging with your teeth or use your teeth as a tool, you’re increasing your chances of dealing with a cracked or chipped tooth.

Remember that unless you have an expensive, painful dental implant to replace the damaged tooth or still have baby teeth, your tooth will be chipped for life. Opening a product with scissors or a knife is safer, and your teeth will thank you.

#2 Smoking

Tobacco-containing products such as cigarettes can increase one’s chances of developing gum disease and oral-related cancers.

As well as this, tobacco can stain the teeth permanently. Limiting or quitting smoking or use of other tobacco products can greatly help your oral standing.

#3 Nail biting

You can probably already imagine that nail-biting has the potential for tooth cracking, chipping, or wearing down over time. However, nail biting is also problematic for your jaw, eventually leading to jaw dysfunction considering you’re keeping your jaw at an unnatural angle while biting your nails. Keeping your nails trimmed short, wearing fake nails, or wearing a clear bitter-tasting nail polish can help with combating nail biting.

#4 Hard tooth-brushing

A lot of people believe the harder and faster you brush, the better and quicker the task gets done. In reality, it’s more harmful than ever for your teeth as it can irritate the gums and damage the teeth and tooth enamel.

Brushing at a moderate pace, twice a day, for two minutes each session is best. If you still find that you brush too hard and aggressively, perhaps using an electric toothbrush would be helpful.

#5 Chewing on ice

We get it, chewing on ice is addicting. However, this can damage the enamel of your teeth. Because ice has a crystalline structure and because your tooth enamel does too, this is problematic, causing one of the two to break.

Sometimes, it’s your tooth that ends up breaking or chipping, unfortunately. Avoid chewing on ice as much as possible, or at least chew on smaller, finer pieces of ice such as shaved ice to create a less dangerous habit for your teeth.

#6 Consistent snacking

Eating three fuller meals is healthier than consistent snacking throughout the day considering the fact that constantly eating increases one’s risk for cavities, always having sugar substances being chewed and swished around the mouth.

Try to cut back on the snacking and instead try to provide well-balanced meals for yourself, cutting out the sugary drinks and foods as much as possible.

Remember, bad oral bacteria feeds off of your food leftovers and thrives off of the sugary substances leftover after you eat or drink something sugary.

#7 Thumb sucking

Thumb sucking is fine for young infants who are teething, but this bad habit can damage the alignment of the teeth over time, often cause an overbite for many individuals. Especially once the permanent teeth come in, thumb sucking can become permanently damaging without the aid of orthodontic treatment.

Thumb sucking can be prevented at all ages. However, the earlier, the better. Keeping your or your child’s hands busy is one potential solution to becoming more aware of your bad habit.

#8 Eating foods with too much acid (e.g. lemons)

As kids, many of us eat a slice of orange or lemon and smile with it as if the peel was our teeth. If your parents ever responded, “Don’t do that. That will run your teeth,” they are correct.

Consuming too many acidic food products and leaving an acidic food product to sit on the teeth (like with the scenario mentioned above) can damage the tooth enamel. Damaged tooth enamel leads to the risk of cavities, tooth sensitivity, and other issues.

If you ever consumed a lemon or other acidic food, you may recall having slightly painful teeth for a while. This is just one example of how quickly something acidic can hurt our teeth. Remember not to brush until at least a half hour after consumption to prevent further deterioration.

#9 Brushing too hard

Like consumption of acidic foods, brushing too hard can also damage our teeth’s enamel. While some may believe brushing harder and faster is more efficient in clearing away plaque, it truly isn’t.

For this reason, it’s important to resort to less vigorous, two-minute sessions of brushing our pearly whites. Your teeth should not hurt after brushing, but they also shouldn’t still feel gritty or have particles of food between the teeth afterward either.

#10 Jaw clenching and tooth grinding

Jaw clenching and tooth grinding are habits that both risk jaw pain, headaches, a misaligned jaw, and even deterioration of the teeth from wear and tear. These are habits some may not even know they are participating in as they often happen during sleep.

Sometimes, we clench our jaws when stressed, anxious, or angry. Reducing such can aid in eliminating jaw clenching problems. Additionally, opting for a mouth guard can ensure your teeth are safer from damage from tooth grinding and/or jaw clenching. Contact your dentist for more information in combating both or one of these problems.

#11 Using your mouth to hold or bite on pencils

Surely, there are many reasons biting or holding our writing utensils in our mouths is unhealthy. Potential chemicals from the materials used and bacteria/dirt buildup on our pens and pencils are some problems.

The actual act of have our pencils in our mouths alone is damaging. Our teeth can become worn down or even chipped by excessively biting or holding pencils between our teeth. Many partake in this bad habit because of worry or stress, so eliminating those issues may be one way to reduce this habit.

#12 Drinking soda, sports drinks, and alcoholic beverages

Due to the acidic pH and high sugar content of sodas and sports drinks, these beverages leave our teeth prone to enamel deterioration, cavities, tooth sensitivity, and other problems in the mouth.

Furthermore, alcohol is also acidic and can wreck the enamel of the teeth. Aside from this, alcohol minimizes the production of saliva so frequently, and too much alcohol consumption can lead to dry mouth. A dry mouth increases cavity risk and leads to halitosis because the mouth cannot properly wash away smelly, harmful oral bacteria.

#13 Misuse of toothpicks

Toothpicks are truly meant for one purpose and one purpose only: To remove gunk between our teeth. Using toothpicks to remove plaque or tartar from the teeth can ruin the enamel and scratch the teeth.

Shoving toothpicks deep between the cracks of our teeth is another issue, one that can cause the teeth to shift and form gaps if done in excess. Using toothpicks correctly, for removing food debris, is important.

#14 High sugar intake

The more sugar one consumes, the higher amount of oral bacteria (and general bacteria in the body) one possesses. This causes bacteria to reproduce in greater amounts and risk cavities and other problems in the mouth.

Additionally, sugar is taken by bacteria that produce acid inside the mouth. These acids are the ones that erode the enamel of the tooth.

Due to this, it is essential to refrain from or at least limit sugary and sticky foods such as dried fruits, candies, gummies, and the like as these stay longer on the teeth as compared to other foods. You may consider fresh fruits instead.

#15 Playing sports without mouthguards

Sports are harmless until someone gets hurt. That’s why sports players usually opt for mouthguards, to prevent tooth or jaw damage.

Getting fitted for a custom-fit one through a dentist keeps the teeth extra 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 mouthguards may be more pricey than a store-bought one, but they have a better fit, are more secure, and certainly prevent potential future dental bills.

Hawaii Family Dental has been providing dental services to the whole state of Hawaii since 1986.

Areas we serve:


Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.

Scroll to top