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8 things you’re probably doing that are ruining your teeth

Be shocked by these teeth-tainting habits you're doing!

ruining teeth_ thumbnail image
ruining teeth_ thumbnail image

Many of us have unwittingly developed bad dental habits over the years without realising just what sort of damage we’re doing to our teeth. While it’s common knowledge that eating foods that cause cavities or discolouration is a big no-no, there are other lesser known habits that might be causing your pearly whites some grief.

We spoke with First Choice network Provider, Dr Johnson Huang from Clear Dental, to settle it once and for all - what habits are bad for our teeth?

1. Chewing ice cubes

Many people believe that eating ice cubes actually work as a calorie and sugar-free alternative to constant snacking. However, it’s not healthy for your teeth to remain in constant icy temperatures – not only should your mouth be kept at around 37°C, but ice cubes are far too hard for your teeth to chew. Over time, crunching down on ice can develop into a subconscious habit that may even create strain on your jaws from the impact of constant hard biting. Opt for healthy snacking alternatives like celery sticks or carrots.

"Similarly, chewing hard foods like chicken bones, lollipops, and crab shells can also cause damage to your teeth," explains Dr Huang.

Credit: nib health insurance

2. Using a hard-bristled toothbrush and incorrect brushing technique

Did you assume that hard-bristled toothbrushes clean more thoroughly? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. You might be surprised to know that many dentists actually advise against using hard-bristled brushes because they are often too abrasive for your tooth enamel, which is the natural protective layer of your teeth. Enamel erosion can cause tooth sensitivity, roughen the edges of your teeth and expose the yellowish dentine layer underneath.

Using hard-bristled toothbrushes can cause gum recession and enamel erosion, leading to increased tooth sensitivity and yellowing. Soft toothbrushes are better and won't damage your teeth if used correctly.

Dr Huang says there are many good toothbrush options available. "Oral-B electric toothbrushes with round bristled heads work well, fitting nicely between teeth and gums for effective cleaning. Features like oscillation movement and pressure sensors make brushing enjoyable and safe for your dental health," he explains.

3. Using your teeth to open bottle caps and other hard non-food items

C’mon guys, bottle openers are around for a reason - our teeth aren’t designed for cheap party tricks! Before you attempt to open a bottle with your teeth, be warned - you could damage your teeth without even realising it. The bottle cap can chip or fracture your tooth enamel which may become a major dental issue later on. "It's simply not worth the risk," says Dr Huang.

4. Playing sports without a customised mouthguard

If you play a sport that could result in an impact to the face – eg. boxing, football, hockey, judo – it’s always a good idea to wear a mouthguard.

"The critical role of wearing a mouthguard during contact sports is frequently underestimated, posing a heightened risk of facial and dental injuries," says Dr Huang.

"There is a stark contrast between the small investment in a mouthguard and the potentially exorbitant costs of dental repairs post-injury," he reminds us.

For those seeking the pinnacle of protection, Dr Huang recommends consulting with a dentist to get a customised mouthguard. This will ensure that the mouthguard fits seamlessly, providing maximum safety and comfort.

"A custom-fitted mouthguard not only shields the teeth and soft tissues from impact but also aligns with your specific dental profile, thereby enhancing its protective effectiveness," says Dr Huang.

Love your sport? Then, put your money where your mouth is!

5. Avoiding the floss

We know it’s easy to forget to floss, but seriously, it should be an important part of your daily oral care routine. Flossing is important for preventing gum disease, which can lead to serious dental problems like periodontitis and tooth loss. It also helps fight bad breath and prevents cavities between teeth by removing food and bacteria in hard-to-reach places.

"Research suggests that keeping your gums healthy by flossing regularly can help prevent serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory issues," says Dr Huang.

"Flossing can also save you money on dental treatments and keeps your teeth looking their best. It's best to floss every day using gentle movements to avoid hurting your gums. Your dentist can teach you the right way to floss during your check-ups."

6. Overusing mouthwash

There are several benefits of using mouthwash daily, like the prevention of dental cavities, gum diseases and halitosis by reducing bacteria in the mouth. However, just like most things in life, overusing mouthwash could result in conditions like oral tissue irritation, oral bacterial imbalance, and teeth staining.

Dr Huang recommends only using mouthwash once a day.

7. Is over-brushing a thing?

"Brushing your teeth after every meal isn't generally harmful and can be beneficial for your oral health, especially if you do it correctly and use the right technique. However, the potential for damaging your teeth exists if certain conditions are met, such as using a hard-bristled toothbrush, applying too much force, or using abrasive toothpaste," Dr Huang explains.

8. Fear of the dentist

The fear of going to the dentist is perhaps the most damaging for your teeth’s overall health. If going to the dentist has you shaking in your boots, it might be worth investigating the many sleep dentistry techniques that may make treatment more comfortable. If you experience any form of dental anxiety, check out our article on 7 ways to overcome a fear of the dentist.

Is it time for a dental check-up?

Our nib First Choice network should be your first port of call to keep your out-of-pocket expenses low. It’s our community of specially-selected health providers who have agreed to provide nib members with quality healthcare and great customer service at an affordable price.

You can choose to see the dentist of your choice, but by choosing an nib First Choice provider, it simply means you could pay less. Search the nib First Choice network now to find a provider.