ToothCaring for your teeth at home is the key to a healthy mouth. If you do not look after and keep your teeth healthy, you are at risk of tooth decay, gum disease and eventual tooth loss. The problem is that you may not be aware of these conditions until a lot of irreparable damage has been done. So, it is a new year and time to change some of those bad habits that can harm your teeth.

Brushing Too Hard
Brushing for two minutes twice a day is one of the best habits you can get into. Just make sure you’re not trying too hard. Brushing with a hard toothbrush, or brushing too hard, can damage teeth and irritate gums.
New habit: Use a soft toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance at the proper pressure. Don’t think ‘scrub.’ Think ‘massage.’ Save the hard toothbrush for cleaning the grout in the bathroom tile.

Grinding and Clenching
This can cause chipping or cracking of the teeth, as well as muscle tenderness or joint pain. You might also feel like you can’t open your mouth wide or chew with pain.
New habit: Relaxation exercises and staying aware makes a difference. A nighttime mouth guard can also help. You’ll have less tooth damage, less pain and muscle soreness and better sleep.

Nail Biting
This nervous habit can chip teeth and impact your jaw. Placing your jaw for long periods of time in a protruding position can place pressure on it, which is associated with jaw dysfunction.
New habit: Bitter-tasting nail polishes, stress reduction and setting small, realistic goals can help. If certain situations are triggers, hold something to keep your fingers busy.

Chewing Ice Cubes
Tooth enamel is a crystal. Ice is a crystal. When you push two crystals against each other, one will break. Most of the time it’s the ice, but sometimes the tooth or a filling will break.
New habit: Drink chilled beverages without ice, or use a straw so you’re not tempted. The risk of chewing ice is greater than any pleasure that comes from chewing it. Besides, ice is really cold!

Constant Snacking
Grazing all day, especially on sugary foods and drinks, puts you at a higher risk for cavities. Cavity causing bacteria produces an acid that attacks the outer shell of your teeth.
New habit: Eat balanced meals to feel fuller, longer. If you need a snack, make sure it’s low in fat and sugar. If you indulge in the occasional sugary treat, follow it with a big glass of water to wash away leftover food.

Using Your Teeth As Tools
Your teeth were made for eating, not to stand in as a pair of scissors or hold things when your hands are full. When you do this, you put yourself at a higher risk of cracking your teeth, injuring your jaw or accidentally swallowing something you shouldn’t.
New habit: Stop and find something or someone to give you a hand. Your mouth will thank you.