General Dentistry Vernon Hills, ILMaintaining a brilliant and healthy smile takes daily dedication. Overtime, you may have picked up harmful habits that are diminishing your dental health. If you’ve picked up any of these four habits, don’t worry. The first step toward a healthier smile is recognizing what is keeping you from it.

  1. Using teeth as tools: Tearing a price tag off a new shirt, ripping a bag of candy open, and prying the cap off a bottle of nail polish are typical ways that teeth are used for jobs they shouldn’t do. Anything beyond regular chewing can be traumatizing and hard on your teeth, sometimes resulting in fractures or a chipped tooth. Instead of weakening your teeth with odd jobs, keep actual tools on hand like pliers or scissors.
  2. Brushing too hard: Over brushing, also known as toothbrush abrasion, can cause gums to recede and make your teeth sensitive.  The main purpose of brushing is to remove plaque, but did you know that plaque is so soft you could remove it with a rag if you could reach all the surfaces of your teeth? Dentists estimate that between 10-20% of American adults have damaged their teeth and gums because they brush too hard. People who are extremely diligent in their daily oral care routine or use a medium to hard bristled tooth brush are, particularly at risk.  Typically, over brushing can be easily solved. Try brushing with a soft bristled toothbrush in light circular motions using your non-dominant hand in. In situations where significant toothbrush abrasion has happened, consult your dentist.
  3. Chewing ice: Ice cubes and tooth enamel are both crystals, and if pushed against each other, one of them will certainly break. Luckily the ice is typically the one to give, but occasionally a filling or tooth can be the victim. To avoid the temptation to chew ice, avoid it altogether and instead opt for chilled drinks. Using a straw can also be helpful.
  4. Nail biting: Nail-biting is typically a reaction to anxiety or boredom. Unfortunately, this simple habit can hurt your jaw. When you bite down on your nails, it places the jaw in an unnatural protruding position. The resulting pressure can lead to jaw dysfunction, evident by pain around the ear, pain when biting, headaches, or tenderness near the jaw. The solution is a distasteful one but could prove to be a powerful stop to this nervous habit: using nail polishes that taste bitter. Or, recognizing what situations make you feel anxious or bored so you can have something on hand to keep your fingers occupied.

If you are having difficulty addressing habits that are harmful to your dental health, reach out to Dr. Steven Hoffenberg at 847-367-6760. Let us help you on your way to healthier smile.