Are You Ruining Your Teeth With These Common Bad Habits?

You’re a dental hygiene rockstar. You brush, floss, and visit us regularly for a checkup and cleaning. But is it possible that you’re still ruining your teeth by partaking some bad habits? You’re not alone.

Below is a list of some of common habits that are bad for your oral health. Some are pretty obvious, while others might surprise you. Further, while many of them can do immediate and obvious damage to your teeth, others affect your teeth more slowly so you may not notice until it’s too late. If any of these habits hit a little close to home, take steps toward quitting them.

Nail biting

Nail biting is one of the most difficult habits to break for many people, and it’s something not often associated with dental damage. Biting your nails can chip your teeth and put strain on your jaw, much like clenching and grinding.

Break it: Paint your nails with a bitter-tasting nail polish, de-stress your life as much as possible, and avoid triggers if you can. If you can’t, try to hold something in your hands, such as a fidget tool or rubber band, to keep your hands busy and away from your mouth.


You’re probably already aware that smoking is a seriously bad habit all around. As far as your mouth goes, smoking can cause yellowed teeth and a number of diseases, including gingivitis and cancer.

Break it: Speak with your doctor about ways to quit smoking. Nicotine supplements, such as gums and patches, have been helpful for many patients.

Sipping sodas

Sodas are notorious for being terrible for your teeth. Some contain multiple days’ worth of sugar in one can. Of course, we recommend not drinking any sodas, but if you must, don’t sip it. Better, drink fizzy drinks through a straw so they don’t linger on your teeth and gums.

Break it: Switch between soda and water to rinse any extra sugars out of your mouth between drinks. Try not to take longer than an hour to drink each soda if possible.

Brushing too hard

Brushing your teeth is important, but don’t overdo it. While brushing too softly can leave residue and bacteria on your teeth, brushing too hard can erode the enamel on your teeth and irritate your gums.

Break it: Keep an eye on your brushing habits. Use the proper brush for your specific needs, and massage your teeth with your brush rather than scrub them. If your arm is sore and your gums are bleeding after each brush, you’re going at them too hard.

Using the wrong brush

Using a brush that’s too soft or too hard, just like exerting too much pressure when you brush, can either leave bacteria behind or take off enamel. Use the proper brush for your mouth and dental situation to get the best results.

Break it: Schedule an appointment with District Cosmetic Dental to discuss the type of brush you need. Our expert dental team can talk to you about exactly what your needs are and suggest options to you.

Eating acidic foods

Acidic foods and beverages — such as lemons, oranges, sodas, and sour candies — wreak havoc on your teeth. The acid can erode the enamel on your teeth over time and irritate your gums.

Break it: Try to limit your intake of acidic foods and drinks, and don’t linger with them. When you partake, brush your teeth as soon as possible afterward or drink water to rinse the acid out of your mouth.

Grinding teeth and clenching jaws

A very common symptom of stress, grinding weakens teeth and can create fractures. Clenching your jaw can lead to jaw problems such as TMJ, which in severe cases could require surgery.

Break it: The best way to break these habits is to minimize stress or find another, healthier outlet for stress. If you tend to grind and clench, Dr. Shaun Alex may prescribe a mouth guard.


These habits can do serious damage to your smile, and taking strides to kick these behaviors can keep your teeth, and your body, healthier for longer. If you haven’t had a dental exam in the past year, visit District Cosmetic Dental soon, especially if any of these habits seem a little too familiar. Call our Washington, D.C., office or request an appointment online.

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