Did you know that Moffett & Walley Orthodontics has been creating beautiful smiles in our community for over 40 years? We’re passionate about giving Jackson and Madison families the personalized care they deserve! While a big part of that involves straightening teeth and correcting bad bites, we’re also proud to provide patients with expert advice on everything related to healthy smiles.
As you might imagine, we’ve collected quite a bit of dental wisdom over the years, but there’s one simple tip that can benefit not only orthodontic patients but anyone looking to maintain their oral health: learn what a good dental hygiene routine looks like and stick to it!
It’s important for all of us to take good care of our teeth and gums. Reviewing your oral hygiene routine from time to time is a part of this process, since recommendations sometimes change. Even so, there are certain basics that will always be relevant: brushing regularly, flossing daily, and avoiding any bad oral habits that can harm your smile.
When it comes to the latter, many people engage in these habits without even realizing how destructive they can be. Keep reading below to learn more about some of the worst offenders and how they can impact your oral health.
Haphazard hygiene routines
To get the most out of your dental hygiene routine, you should be paying attention to the way you brush and floss as well as how often you do it. To keep your smile happy and healthy, we recommend following these basic guidelines.
- Brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss every night before bed to remove stubborn food particles and get rid of sticky plaque.
- Add an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash to eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath and gum disease.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you’ve had a cold or any other illness.
The technical term for teeth grinding is bruxism. It’s defined as any involuntary grinding of the teeth that occurs outside of normal chewing, swallowing, or speaking movements. This common habit is relatively is often involuntary with several possible causes, including:
- stress and anxiety
- certain medical conditions
- misalignment between the teeth and jaws
- an abnormal bite
- missing or crooked teeth
Even if you aren’t aware that you’re doing it, grinding your teeth can cause problems, ranging from interrupted sleep to pain in your jaw, face, or neck. It can also wear down the enamel of your teeth over time. When this exposes the soft dentin inside them, it may result in painful tooth sensitivity.
The good news is, there are many effective solutions for teeth grinding! The first step is identifying and treating any underlying causes like stress, anxiety, and misaligned bites. Other solutions will treat any existing damage while helping to prevent any further impact. Proactive treatment may be recommended for you as well, which can be as simple as wearing a mouthguard overnight.
Sometimes it’s enough to be mindful of this habit, particularly if it’s a stress response. The next time you feel yourself beginning to clench or grind your teeth, try positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth. Over time, this will train the jaw muscles to relax. You can hold a warm washcloth against your cheek to produce a similar effect.
Crunching on ice and chewing on other objects
Are you a fan of crunching on the leftover ice in your cup? Do you always find yourself gnawing on your fingernails when you’re anxious or bored? These habits are very common, and may seem harmless, but they can actually cause real damage to your mouth. For example, the temperature and texture of ice can cause microscopic cracks in the surface of the enamel when you chew it, increasing your chances of developing other dental problems.
Biting your nails or chewing on other objects like pencils and pen caps can also chip away at your tooth enamel. In some cases, it may irritate the soft tissue inside the teeth as well. If you have a hard time breaking this particular habit, it may help to give your teeth something else to do instead! Try popping a piece of sugarless gum in your mouth or look for a healthy snack that comes with a satisfying crunch. Apples, carrots, and celery are excellent choices, and they just happen to be good for your oral health, too.
Using your teeth as tools
We’ve seen teeth used for a lot of things over the years—ripping open packages, tearing tags off items, even opening a bottle cap! Using your teeth as a tool may save you a few seconds, but it can actually damage them pretty easily. After all, it doesn’t take much to traumatize or chip a tooth. Keep temptation to a minimum by placing simple tools like scissors, nail clippers, and pliers in convenient places around your house. This will help reduce the amount of unnecessary stress on your teeth, keeping them strong and healthy for years to come.
Let Moffett & Walley Orthodontics help you achieve a healthier smile
Dr. Moffett and Dr. Walley are board-certified orthodontists with decades of experience between them. They’ve received extensive training in treating a range of orthodontic and dental issues, and will be happy to help you identify and correct any bad habits that could be damaging your smile. Are you ready to take the first step towards stronger teeth and improved oral health? Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with our expert team!