Maybe it’s because our teeth are the hardest part of our bodies. Maybe it’s just human nature to take our health and strength for granted. Whatever the case, we humans have an unfortunate tendency to do terrible things with our teeth that can cause common dental issues.
Understandably, teeth seem like very handy built-in tools. But, before you treat your teeth like nature’s Swiss Army knife, beware of the dangers to your oral and general health.
Open a beer bottle: Whether you’re using your teeth to unscrew or pop the metal cap off, you’re risking serious damage. You may get away with a little wear to the outer enamel, but you may just as easily crack or chip a tooth, risking root damage.
Chew your nails: This may surprise some, but your nails are hard. Chewing on them can wear away your enamel. “We’ll see worn enamel, and even chips and cracks, especially on the front teeth,” says Austin Dentist Samantha Hollinger, DMD. “Often, it is a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and people can’t help it. In that case, we would recommend that they treat their OCD in order to stop.”
Crack walnuts (and other hard-shelled nuts): Have you ever noticed that nutcrackers are usually made of metal? Walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, and other nuts have very thick, hard shells that require a lot of pressure to crack—and it may be your teeth that crack first if you use them.
Chew ice: It’s just frozen water. What’s the problem? Frozen water—ice—is very hard and sharp. If you’re in the habit of regularly chewing ice, you can cause microscopic fractures in your enamel that can lead to broken teeth and exposed root. You can also cause damage to your gums.
Open snack or candy wrapper: A snack bag or candy bar wrapper may seem like a safe enough gamble. It’s not likely to damage your enamel or crack your teeth.
But, think about how many hands…potentially unwashed hands…have touched that piece of plastic…that you’re putting in your mouth…EWWWW!
If that thought engaged your gag reflex, good – now stop gnashing apart snack packages with your teeth! You’re introducing unknown quantities of bacteria that bacteria can cause a range of issues for your mouth and your health in general.
Try to perform self-dentistry: Just the physical difficulty of seeing into your own mouth should be enough to deter most people. For the especially stubborn and self-confident, “Dentistry is not a DIY project. Without the right tools, training, and experience, you’re more likely to make matters worse,” warns Dr. Hollinger. “You could think that you’ve successfully pulled a tooth when you’ve actually only broken it and left infected roots behind. Temporary fixes with drug store products like filling materials and salt solutions are fine. Just remember that they’re temporary and get to your dentist as soon as possible.”
Untie knots: Even soft shoelaces can wear at your enamel as you grip and pull at the material. If you use your teeth to untie knots on a regular basis, it can weaken your teeth and increase your risk of tooth sensitivity.
The next time you’re tempted to treat your teeth like a handy toolbox, think about all the potential damage you can do. Unless your teeth are the only thing available to free you from a fast-moving zombie horde, there’s surely a better tool you can find for the job.
“Just because your teeth are super strong doesn’t mean they’re the best tool for any variety of jobs,” says Dr. Hollinger. “Remember that a healthy mouth is important for your overall health and quality of life. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you for a long, long time.”
TRU Dentistry Austin welcomes emergency walk-ins as well as sees patients after-hours so no one has to endure pain while waiting for an appointment or the office to open. Contact us or Call 737-203-8538 at any time of day.