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Bad Habits That Can Damage Your Oral Health

Bad Habits That Can Damage Your Oral Health

Posted by Kennedy Heights Dental Centre on Dec 23 2022, 09:53 PM

Good oral health starts at home. Our daily habits can either help or harm our teeth. Oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing, help remove food particles and plaque from our teeth. In addition, professional cleanings every six months help remove plaque and tartar buildup that cannot be removed through brushing and flossing.

Nail Biting

While nail biting is fairly common and not necessarily bad in itself, it is a bad habit that can affect your dental health. It can cause damage to the front teeth and put your oral health at risk. Biting your fingernails exposes your teeth and gums to bacteria which can cause tooth decay or gum disease. Additionally, tension and stress caused by habitual nail biting can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a painful condition that affects the jaw joints. If severe enough, TMJ can even lead to the need for surgery. For all these reasons, it’s best to avoid this bad habit. If you’re someone who can’t stop the habit, try wearing gloves to bed at night, so you won’t be tempted to bite your nails in your sleep. You can also apply bitter-tasting nail polish on your fingers to discourage the habit.


Smoking is also bad for your gums and will make your mouth more vulnerable to infections. It can also stain your teeth and make them look yellow. Plus, not only does smoking cause bad breath but it can lead to oral cancer as well. The best way to address your smoking habit is to quit smoking altogether. Otherwise, try to at least reduce your cigarette consumption. If you can’t quit cold turkey, ask your doctor about prescription medicines that can help. They can help you gradually wean off the

Smokers are more prone to developing gum disease and oral cancer than those who don’t smoke. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for oral cancers. Cigarette smoking is also associated with an increased risk for a variety of cancers of the lung, esophagus, throat, mouth, liver, pancreas, stomach, kidney, bladder, cervix, and colon. The risk of cancer increases with the amount of tobacco smoked. Moreover, women who smoke are at a higher risk for developing cervical cancer than men. In men, the oral cancer risk is nearly doubled with a history of heavy drinking. Heavy drinkers who grind their teeth are also at an increased risk for esophageal cancer.

Another major dental health issue that smokers may face is stained teeth. People who smoke cigarettes have yellow or brown teeth, which is due to the nicotine in tobacco and the tar that is found in cigarettes. It can also cause bad breath as well. Some toothpaste can help whiten teeth, but the best way to prevent tooth discoloration is to stop smoking.

If you do smoke, talk to your dentist about how you can quit for good. Your dentist can also help you practice good dental hygiene while you are in the process of quitting.

Aggressive Brushing

While it’s important to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day, it’s also important to be gentle. Your teeth and gums are sensitive structures that can be easily damaged by aggressive actions. If you brush too vigorously or often use a hard-bristled toothbrush, you could be stripping away the enamel that protects your teeth against decay. Enamel is what’s responsible for shielding the teeth from bacteria, so once the enamel is gone, you’ll notice tooth decay occurring. Even if you’re taking proper care of your mouth, your enamel may be worn away over time due to age. It’s important to visit your dentist consistently and ask for recommendations for improving your oral hygiene routine.

Teeth Grinding

Some people suffer from a condition called “bruxism” or sleep bruxism which causes them to clench and grind their teeth at night. This condition can cause severe damage to a person’s smile. Nighttime clenching can result in worn or broken enamel on the tooth surfaces, worn-down fillings, fractured teeth, and even jaw pain. In addition to damaging a person’s oral structures, nighttime clenching can also cause headaches and neck pain due to the pressure being put on the muscles of the head and neck. If you notice that your partner is suffering from these symptoms, encourage them to talk to their dentist about possible treatment options.

Most dentists will recommend an oral appliance like a nightguard to help their patients stop grinding their teeth while they are sleeping. These appliances are custom-made to fit the unique mouth shape and bite of the patient to provide optimal comfort and protection. Patients can typically wear these appliances while they sleep and remove them in the morning. This completely eliminates nocturnal teeth grinding for the patient and prevents further damage to the teeth and oral structures. 

Not Visiting the Dentist Regularly

If plaque builds up and doesn’t receive professional attention, oral bacteria can cause decay and gum disease. A routine checkup can help your dentist catch early signs of oral health issues before they become more painful and expensive to treat. While daily oral care is important, there are places in the mouth that even the best brushers and flossers can’t reach. Your dentist or hygienist will use special instruments to reach those places and remove hardened plaque buildup that normal brushing and flossing cannot remove. They can also identify potential problem areas, such as swollen gums or cavities, which may be hiding in between your teeth.

You don’t have to wait until you have serious symptoms to visit the dentist. In fact, it’s recommended that you have professional cleanings and checkups at least twice a year. There are numerous benefits to regular dental visits, including reduced risk of complex and costly procedures and treatments. Professional cleanings can also improve your breath and give you the confidence to show off your smile!

At Kennedy Heights Dental Centre, we strive to provide our patients with a positive and relaxing experience. If you're ready to experience the best dental care, please contact us at 778.438.2084. or visit us at 11960 88 Ave, Delta, BC V4C 3C8. 

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