Five Habits That Hurt Your Oral Health

TMJ Treatment | 1 | Gregory Allen Kerbel DDS, PPLC | Garland, TX

You brush your teeth for two minutes every morning and night. You floss daily. You visit us for a cleaning and exam twice per year like clockwork. Props to you for your excellent oral hygiene! But all your dental efforts may be sabotaged by a few bad habits that you may not even realize are harming your teeth and gums.

Read on to learn about five behaviors that put your oral health at risk. Then book your next checkup at Gregory Allen Kerbel, DDS, PLLC. Call our East Dallas, TX office at 972-360-9944.


Tobacco Use

This one should be obvious. Cigarettes and other tobacco products (including chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, and cigars) are terrible for your body in all sorts of ways, so it’s hardly surprising that they have myriad negative effects on your oral health.

  • Tobacco use will stain and yellow your teeth.
  • Tobacco makes your breath smell bad.
  • People who use tobacco tend to have a muted sense of taste and smell.
  • Smoking interferes with the functioning of gum tissue cells. This means smokers are more likely to have gum disease and other infections, and their periodontal disease tends to be resistant to treatment.
  • Smokers have more plaque and tartar buildup on their teeth.
  • When smokers get oral surgery, their wounds take longer to heal.
  • People who use tobacco have lower dental implant success rates.
  • Tobacco users have an elevated risk of developing oral cancer.


Overzealous Brushing

This one may surprise you. At Gregory Allen Kerbel, DDS, PLLC, we are all about enthusiastic dental care. But it is possible to go overboard. While inadequate brushing will fail to remove all the bacteria and plaque that’s built up on your teeth, overzealous brushing will get rid of all that — along with your tooth enamel. And that’s definitely not a good thing!

You need your tooth enamel to protect your teeth from bacterial acids and keep the sensitive parts of the tooth safe from heat, cold, and other stimuli. Brushing too hard may also damage your gum tissue. So, while it’s important to brush thoroughly twice per day, be gentle, too. And always use a soft-bristled toothbrush.


Continuous Snacking

It’s an unfortunate fact about modern American life: we live in a snacking society. If you work in an office or cubicle, it’s tempting to keep chips, pretzels, candy, or other nibbles in your desk, easily accessible for whenever you feel a pang of hunger. If, like many families, your days are spent driving your kids to activities all over town, perhaps you’ve developed the habit of feeding them snacks in the car, sometimes in lieu of meals.

Snacking is not only bad for your waistline, it is a bad habit for the well-being of your teeth and gums. For one thing, snack foods tend to be high in sugar and carbs — which create the ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria. When we eat these things, bacteria proliferate and create acids that attack the tooth enamel. When you snack frequently throughout the day, this puts your tooth enamel under nearly constant attack.  

If you do need a little something to stave off hunger, reach for low-sugar, nutrient-rich nuts or crunchy raw veggies. These foods are delicious, healthy, and good for your dental health.


Teeth Grinding or Clenching

Clenching or grinding your teeth (bruxism) often happens at night, so you may not even be aware that you do it. The consequences can be serious, though. The habit may lead to migraines and debilitating TMJ problems, and it also wears down the teeth and gums.

Bruxism is often rooted in stress. You can’t always eliminate the source of your stress, but relaxation techniques can help. At Gregory Allen Kerbel, DDS, PLLC, we can also create a custom mouthguard for you. This oral appliance prevents you from grinding your teeth at night, and keeps your jaw in a position that allows it to heal.


Chewing on Non-Food Objects

Do you have a habit of nibbling your nails? Of crunching ice? Do you ever chew on the tip of your pencil while composing a thought? Or do you ever skip the scissors and tear open packages with your teeth? If you do any of those things, you’ve got to stop. Your teeth are made for chewing food. Not for gnawing on pencils or tearing open bags. By using your teeth in ways for which they are not designed, you risk chipping, breaking, or cracking them. And that’s a dental emergency!


One habit that you should keep up: visiting Gregory Allen Kerbel, DDS, PLLC every six months for a checkup. Request an appointment via our online form or call our East Dallas, TX office at 972-360-9944.