Breaking Bad Habits That Harm Your Teeth

Posted on 1/20/2017 by Gregory A. Williams
Woman biting finger nailsYour Tigard Oregon dentist, Dr. Greg Williams, wants all of his patients to know just how easily you can damage your oral health without even realizing what you've done. You might cause permanent damage if you bite your nails or if you use your teeth to rip the price tag off that new t-shirt.
Take a moment to consider this advice: Brush twice a day, floss daily, regularly visit Dr. Williams, and eat a balanced diet. Sound easy? Well that's all you need to do in order to enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
Of course you also need to avoid practicing some surprisingly common habits that can permanently damage your teeth:

Eating Too Much Sugar From Surprising Foods

Never mind cupcakes, candies, cookies, and soda. Those are obvious cavity-causing culprits. However, sugar intake can be hidden in such innocuous items like cough drops, fruit juice, granola bars, and potato chips (starch is just another type of sugar). Eating excess sugar becomes especially problematic when done as part of snacking. Your mouth produces less saliva when snacking then it does during a large meal like lunch or dinner. Since saliva helps to wash sugars and food from the surface of your teeth, it's important to drink plenty of water during and after snacking to help reduce the impact sugar has on your teeth.

Not Drinking Enough Water

Speaking of the need to hydrate, the majority of Americans fail to drink enough water throughout the day to stay properly hydrated. Not only does drinking water throughout the day help to flush harmful bacteria and food particles from the surface of your teeth, it also helps reduce the hunger pangs you may feel in-between meals. A win-win.

Biting Your Nails

Unless flossing, your fingers should never enter your mouth. When we bite our nails, we place our jaws in a protrusive position, meaning the lower jaw juts out and moves in a repetitive, unnatural way. This type of movement can cause discomfort and pain in the jaw, while also wearing down tooth enamel. Nail biting ranks as a common cause for chipped teeth. If you need to indulge in a nervous habit, trying chewing sugar-free gum instead.


While taking your oral hygiene serious is important, you can easily overdo it by brushing too aggressively. Brushing with too much force or too frequently can easily wear down tooth enamel, causing small cracks to develop in the surface of your teeth. Harmful bacteria can enter into the interior of your teeth through these cracks, leading to tooth decay and potential tooth loss.

Consuming Acidic Foods & Drinks

If you suffer from acid reflux and have a habit of eating and drinking acidic foods, you can expect to see damage to the health of your teeth. Acidic foods can strip away vital minerals from tooth enamel. If you suffer from stomach issues like GERD, acid from your stomach travels up the esophagus and into the mouth where it can also strip down your tooth enamel. Either way, the more acidity in your diet the worse the health of your teeth become.

Using Your Teeth as a Tool

It might seem like a great party trick to open a bottle with your teeth or really handy to use your chompers to open a bag of chips, but your teeth are simply not designed to handle these duties. By using your teeth as a bottle opener or pair of scissors, you place force on your teeth they are not designed to handle. This can lead to chipping, cracking, or breaking your teeth. As a general rule – if you can't eat or drink it, keep it out of your mouth.
Breaking these common habits will make your next visit to Tualatin dentist, Dr. Greg Williams, a lot more pleasant.

11820 SW King James Pl Ste. 40
Tigard, OR 97224-2481

Monday: 8am – 5pm
Tuesday: 7am – 3pm
Wednesday: 8am – 5pm
Thursday: 7am – 3pm
Friday: Closed

Gregory A. Williams DMD | | 503-620-2020
11820 SW King James Pl Suite 40 Tigard, OR 97224
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