5 of the Worst Dental Habits

Dental Health Tips

What comes to mind when you think of good dental health? Even if you brush and floss every day, you may also be unconsciously be engaging in one or more bad habits that undermine the good ones and compromise your dental health. Being aware of five bad dental habits will help you take the right steps to prevent costly and risky dental problems down the line.


5 of the Worst Dental Habits - Smoking

Smoking...One of the most damaging bad dental habits!

You already know that smoking is bad for your whole body, but consider all the damage that lighting up might do to your mouth alone. From the moment you light your first cigarette, smoking causes bad breath.

Soon after, it begins to stains your teeth and tongue and reduces your sense of taste. It may also cause gum disease, which is a leading cause of tooth sensitivity and tooth loss, according to the American Dental Association.

Smoking also causes delayed healing after you have a tooth pulled or after you undergo another type of oral surgery. Even worse, smoking can cause oral cancer.

Fortunately, a recent study published in the science news website ScienceDaily indicates that quitting smoking can help reverse some pre-existing damage. In the study, smokers with chronic gum disease developed healthier gums and became less likely to lose their teeth than smokers who didn’t quit.

Having Sticky and Liquid Sweets

Oral bacteria produce acid when you expose your teeth to sugar for extended periods of time. The longer this acid is in your teeth, the more likely you are to have tooth decay and cavities.

Sticky sweet foods such as hard candies, gum, caramels, gummies, and dried fruits contain damaging sugars that are likely to cling to your teeth. Look out for hidden sources of sugar, too. Starchy foods such as white bread, cereal, and potato chips can get stuck in between your teeth, and the starch converts to sugar. Sugary drinks such as soda are particularly bad for your teeth because they contain tooth-eroding phosphoric acid as well as high amounts of sugar.

Brush your teeth directly after eating or drinking sweets to reduce the amount of time sugar lingers in your mouth. If a toothbrush isn’t nearby, at least swish some water in your mouth.

Wearing and Tearing

Your teeth are strong, particularly if you have plenty of magnesium and calcium in your diet. However, they aren’t immune to damage.

One of the most tooth-damaging dental habits is crunching on ice. The cold temperature combined with the brittleness of the ice can lead to tooth fractures. Biting down on popcorn kernels and fruit pits is also risky.

Another habit that causes unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth is using your teeth as a tool. If your chompers are your back up tool when you need to untie a tricky knot, open a bag of chips, rip off a price tag, or open a bottle, you may end up cracking a tooth or damaging dental work such as fillings.

Avoiding the Dentist

If you have dentophobia – fear of dentists – you aren’t alone.  According to health news source HealthDay...

50 %
Adults that have some fear of the dentist

Approximately 50 percent of adults have some fear of the dentist.

5 %
Adults that have severe dentophobia

5 percent of adults have severe dentophobia.

However, avoiding regular check-ups and not having dental problems treated will cause much more serious, painful, and expensive dental problems later. Cavities increase in size and depth, gum disease spreads throughout your mouth, and infections get worse.

Furthermore, untreated dental problems may be linked to potentially life-threatening health problems. For example, undiagnosed gum disease and untreated gum disease have been linked to heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, and pre-term birth.

Aim to see your dentist at least once per year. Ideally, get two professional cleanings per year and make an appointment for further dental treatments if they are necessary.

Not Flossing and Brushing Properly


Make sure you're brushing and flossing properly!

According to the American Dental Association, you should be brushing at least twice a day and flossing or using another interdental cleaner at least once per day. You may pat yourself on the back for doing this much, but the next thing you need to do is consider how well you’re brushing and flossing.

For example, using an old toothbrush with worn bristles won’t be as effective as using a toothbrush that is less than three months old. On the other hand, forcefully brushing with a firm-bristled toothbrush can strip enamel from your teeth and lead to a receding gum line.

Also consider how long and how thoroughly you brush your teeth. If you brush for less than two minutes and neglect the inner or back surfaces of your teeth, you aren’t brushing properly.

Proper flossing can be even trickier than proper brushing. Just to be on the safe side, take notes on proper flossing the next time you see your dental hygienist.

Michelle Gensaya
Michelle Gensaya
Michelle Gensaya is a Senior Editor at Health Haxor and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Michelle is passionate about health and fitness and often writes about natural home remedies, women's health and beauty tips.
Michelle Gensaya

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