• Dental Health
  • Dental Services
  • Patient Education
  • Problems & Treatments

Bad Oral Habits To Avoid

Everyone develops bad habits at some point in their lives.

These bad habits can include anything from not stopping the car fully at each stop sign, to choosing to eat unhealthy foods over better options. They can become part of who we are, but can also really hurt us.

When our bad habits affect our oral health, the results can be extremely painful on both our bodies and our wallets. With that in mind we have come up with a list of the worst habits which can harm your mouth and should be avoided as much as possible if you want to keep your smile sparkling.


This may seem like an obvious bad habit to break, but about 20% of Canadians still smoke multiple cigarettes each day. Smoking is one of the most destructive habits for your mouth as it not only causes discolouration of the teeth and bad breath, but it can also cause loss of bone density in the jaw, inflamed salivary glands, gum disease, and oral cancer.

Breaking the habit of smoking is one of the best things smokers can do to help and improve their oral health. But we understand what an incredible challenge it is to try to make the change, so don’t do it on your own. Consult with your doctor, friends, and family to figure out the most effective way that you can conquer the demon.

thumbsucking-resizeThumb Sucking

Children who suck their thumbs run the risk of misaligning their new adult teeth. Having the thumb always pressing against emerging teeth can cause teeth to grow in crooked and can even cause deformities in the roof of the mouth, depending on how aggressively children suck their thumb.

Thumb sucking can be caused by a number of different things, and it’s important to be sensitive to what the underlying issue is. Some children simply grow out of it naturally, whereas others find that they want to stop but simply can’t bring themselves to do it. In more extreme cases it may be helpful to seek the aid of a child therapist.

Although we worry about the health of everyone’s teeth most often, it’s important to remember that mental health can never be overlooked.

Definitely past their prime.
Definitely past their prime.

Brushing Too Hard

Brushing your teeth twice a day, every day, is important. But if you’re brushing your teeth too hard, you may be causing your mouth harm.

Aggressively brushing can irritate gums, often causing them to recede, and can erode tooth enamel. If your toothbrush bristles are splayed and worn down, you are likely brushing too hard. Bristles should lightly brush against teeth and gums without causing redness. A great way to help make sure that you’re not brushing too hard is to use a soft bristled toothbrush.


Clenching and Grinding

Clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth can be very damaging to your mouth. Often people clench and grind during stressful situations such as driving or during their sleep.

Teeth grinding, or bruxism as we call it, can erode enamel and can leave teeth exposed to decay. Jaw clenching can cause issues such as pain discomfort, leading to unfortunate outcomes like lockjaw and cracked and chipped teeth.

Speak to your dentist about options that can help this bad habit, such as having a mouth guard fitted or even stress-reducing exercises.

Crunching Ice


Eating ice may seem soothing, but unfortunately it can wreak havoc on your teeth. Our teeth are not designed for crunching ice and doing so can cause teeth to crack or chip.

Grinding ice against teeth can also cause damage to tooth enamel, leaving teeth unprotected and more susceptible to decay. Exposing teeth to the extreme cold of ice can also increase temperature sensitivity in teeth, which no one wants.


Using Teeth as Tools

open-bottle-mouth-teethUsing your teeth to open containers, cut clothing tags, and rip through packages can undo expensive dental work and open you up to all sorts of problems.

Breaking the habit of using teeth as a multitool is one of the best way to protect them against the cracks and chips which can leave teeth exposed and unprotected in the fight against tooth decay. This image here is the only way we’d endorse opening a bottle with teeth.

Biting Nails

Constantly biting your nails can damage teeth and dental work as well as exposing your mouth to the bacteria that lives under nails. Biting anything other than food increases the risk of cracking and chipping teeth, and inviting foreign bacteria into the mouth increases the chance of infection and sickness. Getting sick isn’t necessarily bad for your teeth, but it’s certainly no fun!

Sipping on Sugar

If you are someone who chooses sugar filled drinks over water throughout the day, then you are constantly exposing your teeth to destructive sugars. The bacteria in the mouth thrives on sugar and causes plaque to be produced at a much quicker rate. This plaque then turns into difficult to remove tartar and can cause tooth and gum decay if not properly removed.

To break this habit of constantly drinking juices, sports drinks, and sodas, choose a more hydrating and mouth healthy option like water.

Holding Anything in Your Mouth Other Than Food

Chewing on pencils and pens, holding the arms of glasses in between teeth, sucking on toothpicks, and anything else that exposes teeth objects that could cause damage is a common habit.

Biting and chewing foreign objects not meant to be in mouths can result in damaged dental work and cracked or chipped teeth. Constantly doing this can wear down teeth and make them more susceptible to damage and decay.

We know that some of these might sound like no-brainers, and that some may sound pointless and unnecessary. But we promise you that if you listen to these tips and follow them every day, you’ll be happier for it in the long run.

Replacing missing or broken teeth is expensive and stressful, so if you want to keep your choppers in working order late into life listen to your dentist!