Bad Oral Habits Everyone Should Break

Here at Dietrich Orthodontics, our goal is to create confident smiles for patients of all ages throughout Canton, Alliance, and the surrounding communities. We’re able to achieve this thanks to our skilled team, state-of-the-art technology, and innovative techniques, but our world-class care doesn’t stop there! Dr. Dietrich also offers guidance and advice on how to maintain a healthy smile. Because orthodontic patients are more prone to dental issues, good oral hygiene is essential. That includes addressing any bad habits that can sabotage their smile! 

This doesn’t only apply to those wearing braces or clear aligners, though. These harmful habits can affect anyone’s smile, including yours. Many of them are so common that you could be engaging in one or more of them without even realizing it, but they could be compromising your oral health. We believe everyone deserves strong teeth and a healthy smile, so let’s take a look at what some of these bad habits are (and how you can break them!) To learn more, keep reading below.

Poor oral hygiene routine

How you brush and floss is almost as important as how often you do it. That’s one reason you should regularly assess how effective your oral hygiene routine is. Recommendations change from time to time, and you don’t want to miss out on important information about how to keep your smile healthy! To get the most out of brushing and flossing, ensure you’re following these simple guidelines every day.

  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Floss every night before bed to remove stubborn food particles and get rid of sticky plaque.
  • Add an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash to eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath and gum disease.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months (or sooner if you’ve had a cold or any other illness.)

Too many sugary drinks (and crunching on the ice that comes with them!)

Frequently sipping on sweet beverages like soda and fruit juice can wreak havoc on your smile. The constant exposure to sugar increases your risk of developing tooth decay, and the acid can wear down the enamel. Over time, this may result in tooth sensitivity and cavities. Crunching the ice left in your cup can be an issue, too! The texture and cold temperature of the cubes can damage your teeth, causing microscopic cracks in the surface of the enamel. Try switching to crushed ice instead of cubes, and drink soda or juices through a straw to minimize exposure to your teeth. For the best results, position the straw towards the back of your mouth instead of resting it against your teeth. 

Grinding your teeth

The technical term for teeth grinding is bruxism. We use this to describe any involuntary grinding of the teeth outside normal chewing, swallowing, or speaking movements. This is a relatively common habit that has several possible causes, including:

  • stress and anxiety
  • medications
  • certain medical conditions
  • genetics
  • misalignment between the teeth and jaws
  • an abnormal bite
  • missing or crooked teeth

Many people who grind their teeth are unaware it’s happening, especially if it occurs while they’re sleeping. Whether you’re aware of it or not, bruxism can cause a variety of issues that range from interrupted sleep to chronic headaches. Over time, teeth grinding can also wear down the enamel of your teeth. This exposes the soft dentin inside and may result in painful tooth sensitivity.  

There are several possible solutions for this particular habit. The first step is to identify and treat any underlying causes. Once these have been addressed, a dentist or orthodontist can begin correcting any existing damage. They may also recommend proactive treatment to help prevent any further impact. This can often be accomplished with something as simple as overnight mouthguards.

Sometimes just being mindful of this habit can help “cure” it. If you clench or grind your teeth in response to stress, try to recognize when it’s happening and position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. Over time, this will train your jaw muscles to relax. Holding a warm washcloth against your cheek can produce a similar effect.

Using your teeth as tools

Over the years, we’ve had our fair share of patients popping caps off bottles, ripping tags off clothing, and opening up a bag of their favorite snacks using their teeth. It might seem like these actions are saving you time in the moment, but using your teeth as tools can actually weaken them. This makes them more susceptible to chipping or fracture and may lead to discomfort, pain, and increased sensitivity. You can keep temptation to a minimum by placing simple tools like scissors, nail clippers, and pliers in convenient places so you can use them instead.

Keep your smile going strong with help from Dietrich Orthodontics

Like all orthodontists, Dr. Dietrich spent many years learning how to identify and treat a wide variety of orthodontic issues, including harmful oral habits. As a skilled smile expert, he’ll be happy to help you tackle any bad habits affecting your teeth! Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with us and take the first step towards a healthy, happy smile.