General Family Dentist | Milwaukie, Oak Grove, Gladstone, Happy Valley and Portland, OR

Kevin H. Speer, D.D.S.
2250 SE Oak Grove Blvd.
Milwaukie, OR 97267
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The Worst Oral Habits

The Worst Oral Habits

Did you know that tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body? Despite its extraordinary strength, tooth enamel is not entirely indestructible. Teeth are designed to bite and chew foods, however they are sometimes used for other purposes. Unfortunately, any activity outside of biting and chewing food can pose a threat to your oral health. 

To preserve your oral health, it is important to be aware of oral habits that can potentially damage your teeth. Some habits may pose more a threat than others, but all are considered to be harmful. Here is a list of the worst oral habits that you should avoid: 


Bruxism is a term used to describe the collective behaviors of grinding or clenching your teeth. It usually starts as a result of stress and is generally an unconscious habit that occurs while sleeping. Because of this, bruxism can be hard to diagnose until some damage has already been done to the teeth. The constant grinding up against one another can cause your enamel to erode and wear prematurely, and it can also result in chipped or fractured teeth. In addition to damaging your teeth, bruxism is also a contributing factor associated with temporomandibular joint disorder. In order to manage this unconscious habit, your dentist will likely recommend wearing a nightguard to protect your teeth and jaw from damage. 

Nail Biting

woman biting her nails

Nail biting is another common habit that occurs as a result of stress. Most people recognize the damage that nail biting does on their nails, however it is also damaging to your teeth and jaw. For starters, biting your nails can lead to chips or cracks in the teeth. Additionally, biting your nails places your jaw in an extended position, which can strain the jaw and lead to TMD. If you are a nail biter, it is best to use different methods to stop nail biting. 

Brushing Too Hard

Contrary to popular belief, scrubbing your teeth really hard with your toothbrush does not make them cleaner. It can, however, be detrimental to your oral health. Brushing too hard wears down your enamel faster. Worn tooth enamel is more susceptible to tooth decay and sensitivity. Additionally, brushing too hard also irritates your gums and causes them to recede, or pull away from the teeth. 

Using Your Teeth as Tools

Your teeth are tools that the body uses to bite and chew food. This is their only function and they should never be used for any other function. Using your teeth to open, hold, or tear things can be damaging and can even result in a dental emergency. Instead, use the proper tools for these purposes and leave your teeth to chew and bite. 

Chewing Ice

chewing on ice

Both ice and enamel are crystalline structures. Science tells us that when two crystalline structures are pressed against each other, that the weaker one will break. In most cases, this is the ice cube, however there have been plenty of cases where it was the tooth. Even if your teeth don’t crack from chewing ice, you are slowly damaging the enamel and making it weaker. 

Overall, these are some of the worst oral habits that you should avoid. Regularly practicing these bad oral habits puts you at a greater risk for tooth decay and dental emergencies. Not to mention, you may need to eventually pay for costly restorations or replacements for severely damaged teeth. To keep your smile healthy, you should avoid these habits and instead focus on practicing good oral habits. 

Dr. Speer prides himself on excellence in all aspects of dentistry. He stays up to date on the latest technologies by attending various continuing education courses throughout the year. He also enjoys volunteering his time and expertise at events, such as Portland Mission of Mercy. He is a member of the Clackamas County Dental Society, Oregon Dental Association, the American Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry. He is also the former President of the Oregon Chapter of Delta Sigma Delta, an international Dental Fraternity. 

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