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Habits that damage your smile

A great smile is worth protecting as it’s a feature that will carry you with confidence through life. But did you know there are a range of habits that can potentially damage that smile? We’re not just talking poor diet or oral hygiene here, either, but seemingly innocuous daily habits many of us are unaware of.

Here are seven common habits that have the potential to damage your smile. 

Thumb sucking

Although less common in adults, thumb sucking has the potential to affect the alignment of teeth. In fact, if the habit is prevalent and extends beyond the age of five or six when adult teeth arrive, it can affect the position of teeth and the shape of the jaw. That’s because thumb sucking applies gentle pressure to the teeth and the accumulated effect adds up over time.

If your child sucks their thumb, encourage them to break the habit before they lose their baby teeth.

Mouth breathing

Whether it’s for medical reasons like enlarged tonsils and allergies, or due to the formation of the face, mouth breathing can have long-term effects on the condition and position of your teeth.

The effects of mouth breathing range from a dry mouth that causes tooth decay to sleep interruption. But in children, studies show that children with prolonged breathing impairments like mouth breathing, snoring or obstructive sleep apnoea can go on to develop potential problems such as craniofacial malformation, malocclusion and jaw misalignment.

Meanwhile, it’s a “chicken or egg” scenario, with further research indicating children who have a narrow palate, or other jaw and teeth alignment issues, are more likely to experience breathing problems and blocked airways.

Tooth grinding

For many of us, grinding our teeth as we sleep or clenching them during times of stress is something we are unaware of, but it has long-term consequences for our teeth. These include:

  • Tooth wear and cracking
  • Loose teeth
  • Worn or cracked tooth enamel which leaves you more prone to decay
  • Additional fillings and even root canals
  • Interrupted sleep
  • Broken teeth and cracked or loose fillings
  • Strain on the jaw joint
  • Pain or ache in the face or jaw

Playing sports with no mouthguard

If you play contact sports, make sure you wear a mouthguard every time you take to the pitch. This moulded piece of plastic protects your teeth against impact and guards against tooth loss, chipping and cracking.

Your dentist can fit you with a specialist mouthguard, or you can purchase them from chemists. Meanwhile If you have braces, your orthodontist can create a mouthguard that’s designed to protect both braces and teeth.

Opening things with your teeth

Your teeth are not equipped to pry apart Lego pieces, open packets or undo bottle tops, and using them to open these things can cause significant damage. This damage extends from chips to cracks and worn enamel, so if you’re considering opening an item with your teeth, think again.

On that note, biting your fingernails and eating hard things like ice also has the potential to chip and crack your teeth, so avoid the urge to nibble your nails or bite down on that ice in your drink.

Poor oral hygiene and diet

This should almost go without saying, but poor oral hygiene and/or a bad diet has the potential to damage your teeth permanently due to decay and gum disease.

Ensure you brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily, avoid sugary food and drinks, and visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and clean.

About Norwest Orthodontics

Norwest Orthodontics specialises in helping you achieve a great smile, no matter your age. We feature a range of orthodontic treatments that span from early intervention right through to remedial adult work.

We also have a suite of treatments available that include discrete, removable Invisalign braces, and welcome the opportunity to work with you to achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of.

You can learn more about our services, or contact us to make an appointment.

Habits that damage your smile

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