Habits are part of daily life. Everybody has at least one or two, even the dentists at the Placerville Dental Group. We attempt to build good ones and avoid bad ones. But sometimes a bad habit will creep in unnoticed. Many of these habits develop in or around the workplace, influenced by stress or boredom. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are doing them until the consequences show up. In cases like this, bad habits can endanger your oral health.
Here are some common habits in the workplace — or even at home — that could affect your teeth.
Pen or pencil chewing — Our teeth are meant to chew food, not writing instruments. True, dogs chew on bones and slippers all the time, but we aren’t dogs. Our teeth can get weaker by chewing on non-food items, to the point where they might chip or fracture. If you have to chew, try celery sticks or carrots. They might not write as well, but they sure taste better.
Grinding or clenching your teeth — stress can get to us all, and we cope with it in different ways. When grinding or clenching your teeth (this is also called bruxism), it wears down your tooth enamel and strains your jaw muscles, possibly leading to things like headaches and TMJ. If you can’t seem to stop, we can help protect your teeth with a custom-fit mouthguard.
Nail biting — Also commonly linked to stress or boredom, nail biting introduces all the surfaces and chemicals you’ve been touching directly to your teeth and gums. The fingernail pieces can also get lodged between your teeth, or even pierce your gums. See our recent article on nail biting for more information on how to break this habit. Of course, there are other types of nails found in the workplace, but those aren’t good for your teeth either.
Using teeth like work tools — Sometimes you need your teeth to cut that tape, or pry open a container, or maybe hold onto that flashlight while the hands do something else. That’s what teeth are for, right? No, that’s not what they are for. Many times, a container is more stubborn than your tooth enamel, and then your smile needs our help. Best to avoid that by keeping your teeth off the tool list, unless the job is lunch.
Drinking coffee or sodas all day — coffee is a common way to start the day, and for most of us, it’s become a necessity. However, drinking it all day exposes your teeth to the sugar, syrups, cream and chocolate we tend to add. Sodas create the same sugar exposure, but also add a heavy load of acid. Avoid drinking them excessively. Once you finish your drink, use a swig of water to rinse your teeth so that most of the acids and sugars don’t linger.
Smoking — We are fully aware of how difficult it is to break habits, and smoking tobacco is one of the most tenacious. It’s also one of the most destructive to your oral health. Smoking restricts blood flow and greatly increases your risk for gum disease, and let’s not forget the strong links it has with cancer. If you’d like help, please contact the Placerville Dental Group. We have information and suggestions that you might find invaluable in defeating this habit.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. If you have noticed a habit or behavior that concerns your teeth, feel free to contact the Placerville Dental Group. We would be happy to discuss it with you. In fact, we might even have suggestions on how to alleviate or break your habit. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online.