6 Bad Habits to Help Patients Break


Good oral care seems so simple in principle, doesn’t it? Brush twice a day, floss at least once a day, and keep those regularly scheduled dental appointments. But what do dental pros often see instead? Patients who need some serious help with their dental habits. Here is our list of 6 bad dental habits to help your patients break this year.

Nervous Chewing

Nervous chewing is something a lot of people do. Students may chew on pencils, professionals on pens, and just about anybody on their nails. These habits can chip the teeth and even impact the jaw since it goes into a protruding position when nibbling away. Plus, when you think about where some of those items may have been, it’s pretty gross!

For nail biters and thumb suckers, many dentists recommend this bitter-tasting “polish” to go over the nail to help break the habit.

Vigorous Brushing

Brushing the teeth with Herculean strength. May people unwittingly think that stronger tooth brushing is better to get the teeth clean. In reality, too-tough tooth brushing (try to say that 10 times fast), especially with anything other than a soft-bristled toothbrush, can damage the delicate gum tissue. Showing patients how to give the teeth a gentle “massage” using circular motions with the toothbrush can help break this bad habit.

Cough Syrup & Sucking on Sugary Cough Drops

With cold season in full swing, this is the time of year when people bust out the cough drops and seem to suck non-stop. This habit, along with taking cough syrup for a cold, can make the mouth more susceptible to decay because of all the corn syrup in these products.

Here are some things patients can do to protect themselves from tooth decay while still getting much-needed cold relief:

  • Choose a pill form if available instead of liquid cough syrup
  • Rinse with water afterward
  • Opt for sugar-free cough drops
  • Take liquid medication with meals instead of at bedtime so that the mouth has more saliva to neutralize bacteria

Chewing Ice Cubes

Those clinking ice cubes swimming in a cup of cold cola can sure be tempting to chew on. Most people don’t give this indulgence a second thought. Now, usually it’s the ice that breaks, but sometimes it’s the other way around. If it’s just too tempting to chew on ice, your dental patients can try sipping through a reusable straw.

Using the Mouth as a Tool

Go-go gadget, bottle opener! Many people are guilty of using their teeth as a tool to open just about anything, from plastic bottles to bags of chips. When teeth are used for things other than chewing, it can cause micro-fractures or fillings to pop out. That’s a lot of money spent on the teeth that could easily be avoided.

Non-Stop Snacking

For New Year’s resolutions that involve diets, many people may find themselves skipping large meals and snacking all day instead. Doing this puts the teeth in a constant acid attack. If your patients love to snack, recommend that they follow their snack with a big drink of water to wash away leftover food.

And, of course, choosing snacks like crunchy veggies that help clean the teeth is always better than sugar-laden treats!

Add to this list! What bad dental habits do you often see in your practice? From the weird to the wacky, we want to hear about them!


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