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Happy New Year!!

As the new year is upon us, a lot of us create resolutions to help improve our well-beings in one way or another. Here are 6 habits that you should kick while working on your goals for the best dental health:

1) Nail biting. With this habit, you are more apt to chip teeth and impact your jaw. “Placing your jaw for long periods of time in a protruding position can place pressure on it, which is associated with jaw dysfunction,” says Dr. Ruchi Sohota. A way to help you prevent this would be: bitter-tasting nail polishes, stress reduction, and setting small, realistic goals. If certain situations are triggers, hold something to keep your fingers busy.

2) Brushing too hard. Brushing for two minutes twice a day is one of the best habits you get into. Just make sure you’re not trying too hard. “Brushing with a hard toothbrush, or brushing too hard, can damage teeth and irritate gums,” says Dr. Matthew Messina. The solution to this would be to use a soft toothbrush that has been approved by the ADA. “Don’t think ‘scrub’. Think ‘massage’. Save the hard toothbrush for cleaning the grout in the bathroom tile.”

3) Grinding and clinching. “This can cause chipping or cracking of the teeth, as well as muscle tenderness or joint pain,” Dr. Messina says. “You might also feel like you can’t open your mouth wide or chew with pain.” Solution: “Relaxation exercises and staying aware makes a difference,” he says. A nighttime mouthguard can also help. “You’ll have less tooth damage, less pain, and muscle soreness and better sleep.”

4) Chewing ice cubes.  “Tooth enamel is a crystal. Ice is a crystal. When you push two crystals against each other, one will break,” Dr. Messina says. “Most of the time it’s the ice, but sometimes the tooth or a filling will break.” An easy solution to this would be to drink chilled beverages without ice, or use a straw so you’re not tempted.

5) Constant snacking. Grazing all day, especially on sugary foods and drinks, puts you at a higher risk for cavities. When you eat, cavity-causing bacteria feast on leftover food, producing an acid that attacks the outer shell of your teeth. To combat this, eat balanced meals to feel fuller, longer. If you need a snack, make sure it’s low in fat and sugar. If you indulge in the occasional sugary treat, follow it with a big glass of water to wash away leftover food.

6) Using your teeth as tools. Your teeth were made for eating, not to stand in as a pair of scissors or hold things when your hands are full. When you do this, you put yourself at a higher risk of cracking your teeth, injuring your jaw or accidentally swallowing something you shouldn’t. If this doesn’t sound like something you’d want, you could just stop and find something or someone to give you a hand. Your mouth will thank you.

From everyone here at the Hannibal Dental Group, we’d like to wish everyone a safe and healthy happy new year!

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