No More Natural Teeth: Deciding Between Implants and Dentures

3 Bad Dental Habits And How To Break Them

by Jeremiah Barnett

Hopefully, you're aware that your dental health can have a profound impact on your overall health. Poor dental health can lead to not just cavities and tooth pain, but also other serious conditions. Poor dental health is even linked to heart disease. But even when you know how important a healthy mouth can be, it's hard to break bad habits that could cause tooth problems. Take a look at some common bad dental health habits and find out how you can break those habits and improve your oral health.

Forgetting to Floss

How often do you tell your dentist that you floss your teeth? Is the answer the same as how often you really floss your teeth? One survey found that more than a 25 percent of adults lie to their dentist about how often they floss. Another survey found that only four in ten Americans floss daily.

Whether you simply don't enjoy flossing or it just frequently slips your mind, forgetting to floss is bad news for your teeth. Flossing removes plaque and bacteria in places that your toothbrush can't reach, and because of this, flossing is an important tool to prevent gum disease.

If flossing just slips your mind, consider separating flossing from brushing your teeth. Flossing doesn't actually need to happen over the bathroom sink. Put a bowl of disposable handheld flossers next to your computer or television or on your nightstand — somewhere where you can't miss seeing it. This should help you remember to grab one and floss at least once a day.

If you just hate flossing, it may be time to consider a water flosser instead. It's a bigger investment than a box of floss, but some people find them much easier and less uncomfortable to use, and even enjoy the fresh-from-the-dentist feeling provided by the water flosser.

Chewing on Ice

For some people, the feeling of crunching down on an ice cube or crushed ice is satisfying. It can also feel refreshing, especially when you're hot. But it's not the best thing for your teeth. Between the freezing cold and the texture of the ice cubes, crunching on ice can actually fracture your teeth. It starts out with small cracks in the enamel that you may not be able to see or feel, but those weaken the tooth, and in time, the tooth can eventually break.

If you feel a frequent craving to chew ice, you may want to check in with your doctor and have your iron levels tested. The urge to chew on ice can be a sign of iron-deficient anemia. This is a health problem that can be resolved with iron supplements. When the anemia is corrected, the urge to chew ice will also fade.

If your iron levels are fine and you just like the crunch of the ice, you can try keeping slices of carrots and apples in the fridge. They'll give you the cold crunch that you're looking for in a way that's much healthier for your teeth.

Sucking on Cough Drops

You wouldn't think of popping one piece of candy after another in your mouth all day long. In addition to being bad for your diet, you know that it would be terrible for your teeth. But because they are found in the medicine aisles of the drugstore and often have a medicinal taste to them, many people put cough drops in a different category than candy.

The truth is that cough drops are full of sugar. They aren't really better for your teeth than a hard candy. They may be unavoidable when you have the flu or strep throat, but sucking on them all day every day is a definite no-no.

If you're sick and you really need a cough drop, go ahead, but make sure to brush your teeth afterward. If you're just trying to combat a frequently dry throat, you may be dehydrated — try carrying a refillable water bottle with you so that you can rehydrate more easily. When you fill it from your tap, your teeth will get the benefit of the fluoride in your tap water as well. Or try chewing sugarless gum sweetened with xylitol. Chewing gum helps activate your salivary glands, which may help rehydrate your mouth and throat, and xylitol is known to help prevent cavities.

Be honest with your dentist about your bad dental health habits. Your dentist needs to know to be able to treat you properly, and they can also help you find more strategies to break those bad habits. Visit a site like to learn more about dental health steps you should be taking.