Stop Bad Dental Habits and Protect Your Smile

By Ettienne Van Zyl on December 03, 2016

A dental mirror next to a toothbrush with toothpasteAvoiding bad dental habits is essential to protecting your oral health. Dr. Ettienne van Zyl offers a variety of restorative dentistry treatments to repair dental damage, improve oral health, and restore the smile's beauty. To learn more about your treatment options, including ways to protect your smile and avoid bad dental habits, schedule a consultation at Dr. van Zyl's Memphis, TN practice.

The Dangers of Bad Dental Habits

Bad dental habits can leave the teeth vulnerable to decay and the gums more prone to gum disease. Both tooth decay and gum disease can lead to other complications, like the spread of infection, serious dental pain, and tooth loss. By understanding the most common bad dental habits, you can take steps to avoid them and protect your smile.

Bad Brushing Habits

Brushing the teeth at least twice a day is one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay and maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. However, the way the teeth are brushed can make brushing more or less effective. Some bad brushing habits to avoid include:

  • Skipping brushing: Not brushing at all or brushing less than twice a day leaves the teeth exposed to food, plaque, acids, and bacteria, significantly increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Brush at least twice a day, preferably after breakfast and after you've finished eating for the day, generally before bed.   
  • Brushing too aggressively: Brushing too aggressively, meaning using too much pressure, a hard-bristled toothbrush, or both, can actually cause more harm than good. Regularly brushing too aggressively can wear away the enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay. Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid brushing too aggressively and use short, gentle strokes.
  • Not brushing long enough: Brushing too quickly is one of the most common bad dental habits. The teeth should be brushed for a full two minutes to help ensure the teeth are fully cleaned. Brushing for less than two minutes can leave plaque, tartar, bacteria, and food remnants behind, increasing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Not brushing with proper technique: Unfortunately, some people do not use proper technique when brushing the teeth, leaving behind plaque and food debris. Proper technique includes cleaning all surfaces of the teeth and holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle along the gum line.  

Bad Flossing Habits

Flossing is one of the most effective ways to prevent gum disease and tooth decay between the teeth, but it's also one of the most frequently skipped dental practices. Some bad flossing habits to avoid include:

  • Not flossing: Not flossing at all allows plaque and tartar to buildup at the gum line, increasing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Flossing infrequently: Flossing only occasionally, like the week before going to the dentist, is not enough to protect gum health. Flossing must be done at least once a day, every day to prevent gum disease and keep the smile healthy.
  • Not properly flossing: Simply sweeping a piece of floss between the teeth won't necessarily be effective. Proper flossing requires sweeping the floss up and down a few times along each side of each tooth and along the gum line.

Other Bad Dental Habits to Avoid

Other bad dental habits to avoid include:

  • Not scheduling regular cleanings and checkups: Regular cleanings and checkups should be scheduled every six months to catch damage early and keep the teeth free of plaque and tartar buildup.
  • Ignoring the signs of dental damage: Ignoring the signs of dental damage, like tooth pain or bleeding gums, is one bad habit that can lead to serious oral health problems. Seek dental care at the earliest signs of an oral issue.
  • Using your teeth as tools: Using the teeth as tools, like to open a package or cut tape, can damage the teeth, leading to fractures, chips, or other injuries.

Schedule a Consultation

For more tips on how to keep your smile healthy and avoid bad dental habits, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. van Zyl.

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