Are these habits ruining your teeth?


Our teeth are fairly versatile – they help us chew and speak. We only get two sets in our lifetime, so keep them healthy by following a healthy balanced diet and make sure you see your dentist regularly. Plus, don’t fall into these unhealthy habits that could damage your pearly whites:

Nail biting

biting nails, teeth, oral health

How often do your fingernails end up in your mouth? You should stop this habit immediately because it can chip teeth and affect your jaw. The position of your jaw when biting your nails places pressure on it, which can cause damage in the long run. 

The fix: Try using a nail polish that has a bitter taste to discourage the habit. If stress is causing the nail biting, find ways to reduce it, and keep your fingers busy. 

Read: Keep your smile healthy

All-day snacking

healthy food, snacks, water, oral health

Although health experts recommend eating more smaller meals throughout the day, snacking could put your teeth at risk for cavities, especially if it involves sugary drinks and food. After you’ve eaten, bacteria in your mouth feast on the leftover food and produce acid that affects your tooth enamel. 

The fix: Make sure your snacks are low in fat and sugar. If a sugar craving hits, wash it down with a big glass of water, which will also help to get rid of any leftover food in your mouth. 

Jaw clenching

dentist, teeth, oral health

This habit wears your teeth and gums down over time, causing muscle tenderness or pain. Bruxism poses a serious health risk – ask your dentist to check your teeth and gums for any signs of clenching, as this condition can go undetected. 

The fix: If you know you clench your teeth, relaxation exercises can help reduce any stress that may cause it. Your dentist can also give you a nighttime mouth guard – people often grind their teeth in their sleep and are unaware that they’re doing it. 

Read: Scuba diving can put pressure on your teeth

Over-enthusiastic brushing

brushing teeth, oral health, hygiene

Brushing your teeth is important when it comes to oral hygiene, but brushing too hard can have damaging results. If you tend to brush too aggressively, your teeth and gums can become damaged or irritated, wearing them down over time.

The fix: Use a softer brush and lighter hand. Take your time to clean your teeth thoroughly – think of massaging them rather than scrubbing them.

No scissors, no problem

oral health, scissors, teeth

Often we find ourselves struggling to open something, so we use our teeth. This is never a good idea – your teeth were made for chewing food. By putting something in your mouth that isn’t food, you risk cracking a tooth, injuring your jaw or accidentally swallowing something. 

The fix: Don’t do it. If you need a pair of scissors, find one.   

Read: Thumb sucking and dental problems

Stop smoking

smoking, cigarettes, oral health

Tobacco products (chewing tobacco, cigars and cigarettes) are bad for your health, and especially your teeth and gums. Tobacco puts you at risk of periodontal disease as it reduces blood flow to your gums. In addition, it causes bad breath, a higher rate of tooth decay, oral cancer and affects the appearance of your teeth. 

The fix: It’s fairly simple, stop smoking! Chat to your doctor about ways to quit – your teeth (and body) will thank you. 

Read more:

Do you chew comfortably?

A diet that prevents tooth decay

Oral health affects the whole body


Mouth Healthy
Cleveland Clinic

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
30% - 9690 votes
70% - 23054 votes