Sure, nervous habits are unpleasant, but could it be that they’re also damaging your teeth? Unfortunately, it’s not just possible — it’s likely. Some of the most common anxious habits are harmful to your teeth. Read on to learn about which habits are hurting your teeth, and how you can stop them.
Biting Your Nails
Nail biting is a common habit that might look like it’s only doing damage to your fingernails, but it can actually affect your oral health as well. Repeatedly chewing on fingernails can cause wear and tear to enamel, which can increase the likelihood of teeth cracking or chipping. Jagged or torn nails can also hurt your gums, and may even facilitate the spread of bacteria from your hands into your mouth, or even your bloodstream, if the nails have opened wounds on the gums. Nail biting has even been tied to TMJ disorder.
Studies have shown that emotional stress and hyperactivity may be responsible for nail biting habits. This means that if you can reduce your stress levels, it could reduce your nail biting. Alternatively, if you could substitute another physical habit (such as using a fidget cube or similarly harmless device), you could redirect that anxious energy away from your teeth.
Grinding or Clenching Teeth
Clenching or grinding teeth puts pressure on both your teeth and your jaw, and can wear down your teeth and even contribute to TMJ. The worst part is, many people clench or grind their teeth while they’re sleeping, so you might not even know it’s happening. Up to 20% of adults experience tooth grinding or clenching, known as “bruxism,” either awake or asleep.
Bruxism could be a symptom of a variety of larger issues, from stress to bite problems to poor sleep quality. For that reason, it’s a good idea to discuss with your dentist to identify the root cause. If it’s a result of malocclusion (more commonly known as a “bad bite”), then your dentist will have suggestions on how it can be corrected.
Many people enjoy chewing ice as a cooling treat in the summer, a satisfying crunch, or even a calorie-free way to avoid habitual snacking. (Interestingly, it’s also a common symptom of iron deficiency.) Unfortunately, it’s responsible for dental damage that won’t melt away — biting down wrong on an ice cube could chip or crack teeth, or damage your gums. And even if you never suffer a single big tooth injury from chewing on ice, it can wear down your teeth slowly over time. If you’re looking for a cool, crunchy snack, try carrots or apples instead!
Skipping the Dentist
It can be all too easy to come up with reasons to skip regular checkups at the dentist. Maybe you don’t feel like you can justify the cost, or maybe your teeth seem fine and a checkup feels unnecessary. Maybe you’re one of the many Americans for whom dental anxiety is an obstacle. Whatever the reason, skipping regular dentist appointments can end up costing you more in the long run, and if oral health issues aren’t caught early, they can worsen over time.
If dental anxiety is keeping you from making an appointment, sedation dentistry could be the answer. Call (407) 834-6446 or contact us online to make an appointment with Orlando sedation dentist Dr. Michael L. Weinstock and get the regular attention your teeth need!