Protect Your Teeth: 19 Bad Dental Habits to Avoid

  • Medical Editor: Donna S. Bautista, DDS
    Donna S. Bautista, DDS

    Donna S. Bautista, DDS

    Dr. Donna S. Bautista, DDS, completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor of arts in biochemistry and cell biology. During her time at UC San Diego, she was involved in basic research including studying processes related to DNA transcription in the field of molecular biology. Upon graduation, she went on to attend dental school at the University of California, San Francisco. In addition to her formal dental training, she provided dental care for underserved communities in the Bay Area through clinics and health fairs. She also worked toward mentoring high school students interested in the field of dentistry.

19 bad dental habits to avoid introduction

You brush and floss your teeth twice a day and see your dentist and hygienist regularly, but did you know common, everyday habits may be harming your teeth?

  • Some habits involve what (or how) you eat.
  • Some bad habits involve what you drink.
  • Other habits involve playing sports and doing other activities that you probably think have nothing to do with your teeth.

It's time to go the extra mile to take care of your smile. Grab a pen and paper and get ready to learn the 19 bad dental habits to avoid and how to protect your teeth. How many of these do you do? Take notes and drop these bad dental habits to ensure a great smile for years to come.

It's time to go the extra mile to take care of your smile. Get ready to learn the 19 bad dental habits to avoid and how to protect your teeth from unnecessary wear and tear. How many of these do you do? Take mental notes and drop these bad dental habits to ensure a great smile for years to come.

Grinding teeth

What is teeth grinding? Officially known as bruxism, teeth grinding affects an estimated 8% of adults and the behavior can start as early as when they are infants. People who suffer from the condition often grind their teeth at night and in their sleep. The symptoms of teeth grinding may include jaw pain, ear pain, headaches, and worn down teeth. The causes of teeth grinding are not entirely known, but factors like stress, anxiety, snoring, and use of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine may play a role. Because the behavior can be so uncomfortable, many people want to know how to stop grinding their teeth at night.

While there is no cure bruxism, using a mouth guard for teeth grinding is effective in *adults. A dentist may also prescribe a mouth splint to help protect the teeth and oral structures against grinding. Because children's are still growing and developing, a mouth guard is not recommended until growth has been completed. Although there is no solid scientific evidence that the following natural remedies are effective against teeth grinding, they may offer some benefit and are not harmful:

  • Eat a crunchy snack before bed. Chewing relaxes the jaw muscles so you may be less likely to clench them at night.
  • Place a warm compress on your jaw to promote muscle relaxation.
  • Practice yoga or meditation regularly to combat stress, which may be associated with teeth grinding.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/27/2016

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