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It Turns out These Little Habits Aren’t Good for Your Oral Health

Humans pick up a lot of habits along the way from birth to terminus. Most of them are so small, we don’t even realize we are doing it, sort of like a facial tick when we get nervous. It is said that when playing poker, everyone has a tell. There is a thing we do that communicates to the other players that we are bluffing. 

Consider how many of our habits have implications for oral health: smoking, chewing sugary gum, picking one’s teeth, and chewing on a lock of their own hair. These are habitual gestures that happen at the unconscious level. When they go that deep into our psyche, it is hard to break them.

Most of those little habits are harmless. But some have real consequences for oral health. Moreover, those habits are equally hard to break even when we learn they are harmful. Many habits start when we are babies. Some kids suck their thumbs well past age 6 and suffer poor oral health because of it. While natural, it is also a bad habit. Here are a few more habits that, as it turns out, aren’t very good oral health:

Nail Biting

It is important to say up front that no serious health risks are directly associated with nail biting. Plenty of adults do it too. It is more of a social taboo much like nose-picking. For obvious reasons, you don’t want to be seen doing it. 

There are indirect risks to nail biting. Unless you wash your hands a lot and scrub underneath your fingernails, you are putting a lot of grime in your mouth that should make you nauseous just thinking about it. That is in addition to the germs that get trapped in there. Your kids are even less particular about hand-washing. You can see why it is a habit that has to stop. What you might not immediately see is how to do it.

There are excellent resources on how to stop nail biting in children. There are even great products with which you might not be familiar that can help you get the job done sooner. What you want to avoid is getting angry, harshly telling your child to stop it, and generally creating more stress for them which will likely result in even more nail biting. Be patient and try a few of the suggestions that have helped other parents. The first step is to realize that it is a nasty little habit that has to go.

Leaving Your Toothbrush on the Counter

Bathrooms don’t tend to have a lot of counter space. One of the worst things we use that precious real estate for is as a place to toss our toothbrush after brushing. Yuck! Do you need a reminder of all the unsanitary things that live on your counter? I didn’t think so. 

One of the top oral care products that should be on everyone’s list is proper toothbrush storage. Some bathrooms have those soap dishes with four holes: one in each corner for toothbrushes. At first blush, that seems like a good solution to the problem. It isn’t. 

The problem isn’t just that the toothbrush heads were rolling around a filthy counter making casual contact with other toothbrush heads. It is that the heads were exposed to the air. Think about the particulates that drift about when you flush the toilet. Those particulates land on everything, including the exposed toothbrush. I could provide more examples. But that should be enough to make you want to stop leaving your toothbrush exposed to the elements. 

Grinding Your Teeth

Teeth-grinding (bruxism) is bad for your oral health if nothing is done about it. Grinding is often done out of stress or as a sign of anger. It also happens in one’s sleep involuntarily. Grinding eventually fractures and loosens teeth. In popular media, it is often played for comedy. But there is nothing comedic about damaging your permanent teeth. If you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw on a regular basis. See a dentist for treatment.

Helping your kids overcome bad habits when they are young gives them a better chance at a full life as an adult. Help them stop nail biting, leaving their toothbrush unprotected, and tracking into the house whatever they have been stepping in. 

 
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