Harmful Habits to Avoid with Your Teeth
Biting Your Nails
If you’re often under stress, you may find yourself unconsciously biting your nails. That isn’t good for your nails, of course (and you might be embarrassed on your next visit to your manicurist). It also is bad for your teeth. You might find it hard to believe that those little nails could be strong enough to damage your teeth, but they can easily be chipped or cracked, especially if your teeth have some weaknesses.
Chewing on your nails can have another important effect: it could misalign your jaw. The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the hinges that connect the lower jaw to the skull and are easily displaced. Factors can be not getting enough calcium or magnesium in the diet, taking oral contraceptives or undergoing hormone replacement therapy, chewing gum excessively, arthritis, or fibromyalgia.
Once dislocated, these joints can be a challenge to put back and keep in their proper place. Our Brookline dentist can create a personalized orthotic splint to wear which will help train the jaw to keep them in the correct position. We can prescribe muscle relaxers, teach you neuromuscular exercises to keep the joints relaxed, or refer you for physical therapy, ultrasound, or laser therapy.
The best remedy is prevention: find ways to reduce stress, trim your nails, or coat them with something that will immediately get your attention if you bite them.
Teeth Are Not Tools
Many of us get in the habit of using our teeth to pull off clothing, open packages, or hold something while we use our hands. Every action that relies on the strength of teeth risks damaging them. Ask yourself before you do something risky whether you want the pain it might cause and the big dental bill to repair the damage. Get help undressing, find a knife or scissors to open things, and ask someone to hold the item.
Chewing on Things
Most of us have found ourselves chewing on the end of pencils and pens when pondering what we want to write. This could easily result in a cracked or chipped tooth. Ice is another danger to dental health, so get in the habit of drinking with a straw to keep you from unconsciously biting ice.
Always Plays Sports with a Mouthguard
Almost all pro athletes play intense sports and activities with mouthguards. But amateurs should, too. Nearly 39% of all oral injuries are the result of participation in sports, many at school, with some five million teeth being knocked out each year. These can also result in fractures, chipping, TMJ dislocation, and damage to dental work, such as braces.