At our Beaverton family dentistry, Dr. Walker knows from experience just how important a healthy, great-looking smile is to his patients. A healthy smile allows you to eat, smile, and laugh confidently. When dental decay or disease impacts the health of your smile, it can make enjoying the little things in life far more complex and cause you to shy away from social situations due to feelings of self-doubt.
Your oral health also plays a vital role in helping to protect your overall health. Studies have shown that individuals who experience tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss have a significantly higher risk of developing chronic health conditions. Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and dementia have been linked to poor oral health.
Most oral health problems develop due to poor oral hygiene habits or from not scheduling regular appointments with Dr. Walker at our Beaverton family dentistry. Failing to brush and floss daily or receiving regular dental care allows harmful oral bacteria to take a toll on your teeth and gums.
Of course, other habits can also cause oral health problems. Let’s look at a few bad habits that you need to avoid to enjoy a healthy, great-looking smile that lasts a lifetime.
Biting Your Nails
Nail biting is an often unconscious habit that can cause significant damage to your teeth and jaw. According to the American Dental Association, nail biting can lead to TMJ development since the habit places your jaw in a protruded position for extended periods. Patients who develop TMJ experience significant discomfort when eating. Nail biting can also place additional stress on your teeth, increasing the risk of chipping or breaking.
Eating Too Much Sugar
Sugar ranks as your teeth’s number 1 enemy, and the longer it stays in your mouth, the more damage it causes. Plaque transforms the sugars you consume into a harmful acid that works to erode tooth enamel and increase your risk of gum disease. A sugary snack between meals or drinking soda throughout the day allows sugar to remain in your mouth for hours until you brush or eat a large meal.
Using Your Teeth as Tools
Never use your teeth for anything other than chewing. Don’t open a bottle or tear apart packaging using your teeth. If biting your nails causes unnecessary stress and strain on your teeth, imagine what torquing a bottle cap will do? As a general rule, never put anything into your mouth that you cannot eat or chew.
Chewing on Ice
Thermodynamics teaches that when an object becomes cold, it slows down and becomes more brittle. Your teeth are no exception to this rule. Chewing on ice freezes your teeth, making them more susceptible to chipping or breaking. If you have a loose filling, untreated cavity, or cracked tooth, experiencing an oral health mishap increases when you chew on ice.
Playing Sports Without a Mouthguard
If you play any sport, you need to wear a mouthguard. One missed pass, inadvertent elbow, or fall to the ground can cause permanent damage to your long-term oral health without the protection of a custom-made mouthguard. Studies have even found that wearing a mouthguard can reduce the risk of concussion. At our Beaverton family dentistry, Dr. Walker can create a custom mouthguard that comfortably protects your smile and reduces your risk of injury.
Grinding Your Teeth at Night
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is another unconscious habit that damages your teeth. Studies suggest that up to 8 percent of Americans grind or clench their teeth at night. Teeth grinding is often the result of stress. If you wake up with a sore jaw or tender teeth, you need to schedule an appointment at our Beaverton family dentistry. Dr. Walker will be able to determine if bruxism is the cause of your discomfort and provide you with a nightguard to protect your teeth.