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13 November 2018

Keeping an eye on those habits that can be harmful to our teeth.

In a number of Confidental Clinic blogs, we have mentioned the oral health issues associated with habits such as smoking; habits which generally have potentially serious consequences. There are though, many other habits which may not cause the same degree of harm as smoking, but can still cause damage to our teeth, nonetheless.

The level of risk is variable but here is a quick summary so our local Surbiton patients have a degree of awareness of the damage they may be causing to their teeth and overall oral health.

Nail biting

We have written previously about the small risk to dental veneers when you bite your nails and other hard objects. This action can, on rare occasions, cause veneers to become detached. Even if you don’t wear veneers though, this action could still cause chips to appear in your teeth. It is not the nail itself which causes the damage, but when your teeth slip off the nail, coming into sharp contact with your other teeth. Although any damage is likely to be minor, even small chips in the teeth can become larger and potentially allow bacteria to enter the tooth, leading to decay.

Thumb sucking

Although a few adults may still do this, this habit is largely confined to younger children, often as a way to soothe themselves. Although this is entirely natural, care should be taken to minimise the amount of time that they do this. Sucking their thumb can cause the top front teeth to start to protrude and may need to be corrected with orthodontics as they grow older.

Opening bottles and even crisp packets

Your teeth are not meant to be used as tools, other than for the breaking down of food so that it can be digested properly. We are sure that we don’t need to explain why opening bottles with your teeth is a foolish idea, but even opening crisp packets can cause our teeth to slip and clash with other teeth. If you are unlucky, you can even experience a broken tooth as a result of this.

Chewing ice cubes

You probably wouldn’t do this if you had sensitive teeth, but a surprising number of people do so. Ice cubes may not contain sugar and hence won’t contribute to decay, but they are very hard, and, especially if your tooth has a weakness that you may not know about, the chances of a tooth breaking are fairly high. Remember, if you attempt to do this, it may not be the ice cubes that crack!


Increasingly, we rarely sit down for 3 meals a day as snacking comes to the fore. The “old style” more consistent schedule for meals had the advantage of allowing your teeth to remineralise, but because we now often snack, our teeth do not get time to recover between meals. In addition to this, both teeth and gums are exposed to a regular flow of sugar, with this often resulting in tooth decay and/or gum disease.

Tongue piercings

If you are a fan of oral piercings, you might want to reconsider. It is far from unusual for the metal used in piercings to chip the enamel on your teeth. Lip piercings also present this risk. There is also a higher risk of infection from the area where the piercing has been made in or near the mouth.

The dental team at the Confidental Clinic recommend that you avoid these habits and adapt a more tooth friendly lifestyle if you want to avoid their pitfalls. Whether you do indulge in them or not though, regular check ups are still needed and we invite you to book yours by ringing our Surbiton clinic on 020 8399 1291.

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