Bad Habits That Can Damage Your Smile

Posted by 4TH AND MORRIS DENTISTRY on Jan 14 2023, 06:32 AM

Brushing and flossing are two of the most effective ways to maintain good oral health, but there are many other habits that can affect your mouth and teeth. If you engage in the following habits, then you might be harming your oral and dental health. Here are some common bad habits you should break now to protect your teeth and gums in the future.


Smoking tobacco is bad for your health in general, but it's especially harmful to your oral health. It increases your risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer and can significantly reduce your ability to heal if you're injured in the mouth. And worst of all, people who smoke are more likely to lose teeth than those who don't smoke and particularly tooth loss in adulthood. 

Drinking sugary beverages

One of the biggest culprits when it comes to poor oral health is drinking soda and other sugary drinks. Sugary liquids feed the bacteria that cause cavities, so the more sugar you consume, the worse off you'll be. Of course, alcohol is also very bad for your oral health, as it dries out the mouth and increases your risk for dry mouth. Try replacing sodas and alcohol with water to stay hydrated and protect your teeth and gums. 

Nail Biting

Everyone knows that nail biting is a habit that can have a negative impact on our oral health. Even though it's quite harmless when done in moderation, repeated nail biting can put you at a higher risk of chipped teeth or a broken tooth. This is because when you bite your nails, you're putting undue pressure on them. You also run the risk of damaging the protective enamel coating of your teeth. If left unchecked, this can lead to the development of cavities and tooth decay.

Using Teeth As Tools

Many people use their teeth to open packages and bottles. While this may seem like an innocent habit, it can actually cause significant damage to your teeth. Your teeth are not meant to hold these heavy objects. Over time, biting down on something too hard can damage or break a tooth. It can also wear down your enamel and cause receding gums. 

Chewing Ice Cubes

Eating ice may seem like a harmless habit to keep your mouth cool on a hot day. But chewing on ice can be damaging to your teeth. This is because chewing on ice chips can cause your teeth to chip or crack. It can also wear down your tooth enamel and increase your risk for tooth decay. This increases your chances of needing advanced restorative dentistry treatment like dental crowns or dental implants at a later date. If you are craving a cold beverage, opt for water instead! Water is safer for your teeth because it does not contain harmful sugars that can lead to cavities.

Frequent Snacking

When we snack throughout the day, it's common for sugar to linger on and in between teeth. This can cause tooth decay and cavities. It's best to limit snacking as much as possible, especially when snacking involves sugary or starchy foods and drinks. If you do want to snack, remember to brush your teeth afterward. 


Thumb-sucking is a habit that many children develop between the ages of two and four years old. Most children stop thumb-sucking by their early teens. However, some adults continue the habit well into adulthood. And the habit of thumb-sucking can cause significant bite alignment issues. It can also cause teeth to become crooked if continued for many years. If you or your child struggles with thumb-sucking or other oral habits, speak with your dentist to discuss how best to break the habit.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding and clenching might seem like an involuntary action, but it is actually a habit that can be broken. Here are some strategies that might help:

  1. Wear a night guard. A plastic mouthguard worn while you sleep can protect your pearly whites from damage and wear. Ask your dentist about custom-fitted night guards for the best protection.
  2. Control stress and anxiety. If you grind your teeth because of stress or anxiety, try to find other ways to de-stress. Try exercising, meditating, journaling, playing music, or taking a hot bath to relax at night before bed.

Brushing Too Hard

When brushing your teeth, don't apply too much pressure! Many people do this by mistake, but it can lead to gum recession and enamel erosion over time. The ADA recommends that you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should also floss at least once per day to remove food debris from between teeth that your toothbrush can't reach. 

If you’re due for an appointment, call our team today! We’re happy to help! Our dental office is located at 344 Morris Ave S, Renton, WA 98057. Make an appointment with us right away by calling (425) 226-6227 to learn more about our dental services. We’re looking forward to seeing you!

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