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NYC Smile Design - BLOG - Top Four Destructive Oral Habits That Damage Teeth

May 2nd, 2012 | 2 min read

By NYC Smile Design

There are certain habits that most people have that are quite destructive to the teeth. Let’s go over the top four:

  • CHEWING ON ICE – can lead to tooth pain, cracking, fracture, and in some cases, total breakage of a tooth to the point where it may need root canals or worst case may not be able to repair and end up losing the tooth.  If teeth are constantly cooled to such extreme low temperatures, eventually it will create micro fractures within the tooth enamel.  These micro fractures will allow stains to penetrate deep in the enamel layer and eventually they get yellower and yellower.  If there are numerous dental fillings in the mouth they are more susceptible to breakage from ice chewing because the tooth’s foundation has been weakened
  • SUCKING YOUR THUMB – this is considered normal until children reach 2 ½ years but after that age thumb sucking interferes with the positioning of the upper and lower front teeth, causing the upper teeth to splay out and the lower teeth to tip towards the back of the mouth. If allowed to progress, the upper and lower tooth jaws do not develop properly-they become narrow and constricted which ultimately leads to breathing and speech problems
  • SUCKING ON LEMONS – this will cause a multitude of problems, including chronic sensitivity to cold food and drinks, a chalky and worn look to the enamel, weakening of the teeth leading to chipping and cracking, and a greater incidence of tooth decay caused by loss of protective enamel. Teeth are bathed in saliva and the PH of the saliva is neutral.  Constant lemon sucking will change the PH to an acidic environment which is quite destructive as it begins to demineralize the teeth and slowly take layers of enamel away. Cosmetically, teeth will appear yellowish as a result of enamel layers being stripped away and the underlying Dentin layer which is yellow in color will begin to reflect through this now much thinner enamel layer.  Unfortunately bleaching will not be effective at this point. Because bleaching works when there is a thick layer of enamel.
  • Biting on a pen or biting your nails- Similar to chewing ice, this habit puts a great amount of force against the teeth. There is a limit as to how much pressure a tooth can withstand and remain healthy, and activities such as these can exceed the tolerance limits of your teeth. It’s important to understand that teeth are embedded in bone but this bone is not completely solid and can remodel and reshape when forces are placed on them.  Constant pen chewing or nail biting will move front teeth as one tooth moves the teeth next to it begin to take its position eventually causing a crowding of the teeth.