13 Bad Dental Habits That Are Wrecking Your Teeth

dental habits

Everybody knows that maintaining good dental health is a cornerstone of living a healthy and fit lifestyle. At the same time, dental problems are some of the most prevalent health issues faced by Americans. According to the national institute of dental and Craniofacial Research, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. It’s seven times more common than hay fever and five times more common than asthma. The majority of adults in the U.S. also show signs of gingival or periodontal diseases.

Oral health has also been linked to disease prevention in other areas. For example, some research has shown that having periodontal disease could raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. But aside from the obvious brushing and flossing, what can be done to maintain dental health? You should avoid:

1. Chewing On Ice

Chewing on ice is a habit that many people find pleasurable, especially on a hot day. Unfortunately, teeth are not properly equipped to chomp down on materials as hard as ice, meaning that cracking, chipping and even fractures are likely to occur with regular ice chewing. Even if no direct damage is sustained, chewing on ice can still cause enamel to wear down and can make teeth more vulnerable to decay.

2. Grinding Teeth

Grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism, is an often stress-related habit that can lead to loosening, fracturing and even loss of teeth. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that they grind their teeth because the grinding often occurs during sleep. If you consistently wake up with a sore jaw or dull headache, you may need to contact a dentist to examine your teeth and recommend treatment options if evidence of bruxism is found.

3. Too Much Sugar

Out of all the bad dental habits on this list, sugar consumption may be the most obvious – and also the most ignored. Simply put, sugar is wreaking havoc on our health. Consuming too much candy, soda and sports drinks is leading to high tooth decay levels around the world, yet their consumption levels do not appear to be decreasing significantly. If you’re at all worried about protecting your teeth, limit your sugar intake. Instead of soda and sports drinks, simply choose water.

4. Sticky and Starchy Food

Sticky foods like dried fruit and gummy candy, as well as starchy foods like potato chips, are notorious for lodging themselves in-between your teeth. A simple brushing might not get rid of these types of food – flossing is necessary to prevent the plaque buildup that can occur from leaving these foods in your teeth.

5. Coffee and Wine

Coffee and wine are notorious teeth stainers. Studies have shown that coffee stains can be the most difficult type of stain to get rid of, and simple brushing doesn’t do a whole lot to combat them. Stains are not just a cosmetic problem either – very heavy coffee stains can cause teeth to be overly sticky and more apt to attract bacteria and food particles. Not to mention, these stains can lead to…

6. Overuse of Harsh Whiteners

Whiteners should be used only as directed, and their overuse can lead to serious oral pain and discomfort. To ensure that your teeth are whitened safely and correctly, it’s best to see a dentist.

7. Using Your Teeth as a Tool

It’s something we’ve probably all done, but using your teeth to rip open a difficult plastic bag or open a stubborn bottle can cause your teeth to chip, crack or otherwise weaken. Simply make sure you have scissors, twist-jar openers, and any other tools handy (especially in the kitchen) to prevent you from resorting to using your teeth.

8. Playing Sports Without Mouth Protection

The stereotype of the hockey player who’s missing teeth came about for a reason: contact sports can lead to serious oral injuries. One of the most potentially hazardous dental habits is to participate in football, cycling, hockey, skating or other possibly dangerous activity without using a helmet or mouth guard. According to Colgate, mouth guards prevent around 200,000 mouth injuries to football players each year.

9. Chewing on Pens or Pencils

Chewing on your pen is a nervous habit that can not only lead to illness, but can also cause your teeth to weaken or become loose. To break this habit, try popping in a piece of sugar-free gum any time you get the urge to chew on your writing utensil.

10. Biting Your Nails

Similarly to chewing on pens and pencils, nail-biting is a habit that can lead to minor infections, worn tooth enamel, and tooth misalignment. The habit is notoriously hard to break, though, and some estimate that as many as 10 to 20 percent of adults in the U.S. are nail-biters. However, special nail polishes can go a long way toward curing a nail-biting habit.

11. Smoking

The effects of smoking on teeth are well-known. Smoking can cause discoloration, bad breath, jaw bone loss, increased plaque buildup, increased risk of gum disease, and increased risk of oral cancer.

12. Brushing Too Hard

Bad dental habits can actually occur while trying to clean your teeth. The ADA usually recommends soft-brush toothbrushes, as bristles that are too stiff can end up damaging tooth enamel. Brushing too soon after an acidic meal can also cause some enamel to break down – give your teeth about 30 minutes to allow saliva to rinse acid away before brushing. Also, avoid brushing more than three times per day.

13. Using a Toothpick

Trying to remove food that’s stuck between your teeth is a noble goal, but products such as floss or interdental brushes are less likely to damage your gums. If you must use a toothpick, do it gently.

60 Responses to 13 Bad Dental Habits That Are Wrecking Your Teeth

  1. Mia Boyd says:

    Thanks for the information. It’s crazy to me how bad chewing on ice can really be. That’s bad news, seeing as I’ve been doing that for the last few years. I’m sure my teeth are slowly rotting away, so it would probably be a good idea to see a dentist about that. I’ll schedule an appointment this week.

  2. Very good information on maintaining dental health. I will surely share this information with my patients.

  3. Jack Moore says:

    Huh, I had no idea some of these were issues. I chew on ice all the time, and I’ve almost always got a pen between my teeth. I’ll have to try the gum trick you suggested, that could save me a lot of trouble later.

  4. Liz Armeson says:

    This was really informative! There are so many things that I did for so long before I ever knew they were bad for my teeth. A large part of that is that dentists don’t have time to tell you about every single thing that you should avoid doing. That’s why it’s important to make sure you ask your dentist if you have any questions about your oral health. Thanks so much for writing!

  5. PlacidWay says:

    Thanks for the information, Just remember that dental hygiene is directly related to optimal health. The things you have mentioned were most cases can cause gum disease, and an abscess or an infected tooth can and does affect the health and function of the human body.

  6. Very informative. Sometimes it is basic details that are the most important for dentists to elaborate on to help avoid complications!

  7. With number one, chewing on ice, does the temperature have nothing to do with why it’s bad for your teeth? I thought I remember something about not chewing ice because the sudden and hard frozen object can shock your teeth. Shocked teeth are supposed to be easier to break or something like that as well.

    • TJ Anderson says:

      Hi Sarah,

      The temperature of ice may or may not have any effect. It’s really more about the hardness and texture, constant chewing of which can lead to cracks, chips, enamel wear, and even issues with existing dental work.

  8. Hazel Owens says:

    I had no idea that brushing your teeth too much, or that brushing too soon after eating acidic foods, could actually hurt your teeth! My teeth always feel weird after eating or drinking citrus or other acidic things, so I’ve sometimes brushed my teeth to get rid of that feeling; guess I’ll be stopping that practice now! A lot of these other habits, like chewing on your nails or other hard things, make sense to me, but number 12 definitely surprised me.

  9. Kayla Rogers says:

    I am definitely prone to eat sticky and starchy foods. Like you say, it is much more than an aesthetic problem. Cosmetic dentistry would probably be the best route to go if you had bad enough damage from stains and bacteria!

  10. I know it is bad for my teeth, but I need my coffee in the morning. Is there anything to combat the stains? I use whiteners, but it is expensive. I want to keep a nice smile as long as I can.

  11. Silas Knight says:

    I had no idea that chewing on ice could be harmful to my teeth! That’s just a bad habit that I have gotten into, but I never thought anything of it. I’ll have to pay better attention and stop it, thanks for the info!

  12. I have a bad habit of chewing on the ice in my drinks, I just find it so satisfying! However, I think that I can work on breaking out of that habit, especially because it’s ruining my teeth! While I’m at it, I think I should work on not using my teeth as tools! Thanks for this advice!

  13. Hi,

    Taking care of your teeth daily is essential to help prevent worse oral problems from occurring in the future.
    You definitely want to make sure that you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day.
    That can really help prevent the build up of bacteria and help keep your mouth clean.
    It is also a really good idea to visit the dentist regularly.


  14. Tara Allen says:

    Cosmetic dentistry sounds like a perfect solution to teeth imperfections. That is awesome that cosmetic dentistry can be used to benefit your teeth from something as simple as coffee stains. The list that you provided of things that are harmful to your teeth, is very helpful to look over and correct, in bettering your oral health.

  15. Frank Taylor says:

    great article

  16. Silas Knight says:

    Having nice teeth is something that everyone wants, I think. Most of us know to avoid these bad habits, but I had never heard some of these before. For example, I used to always chew on my pen in school, but now I know that that isn’t healthy, so thanks!

  17. These are 13 tips! Thanks for the advice. It’s always good to hear as many different views on oral health to make informed decisions. And it was a pleasure to read your post, the quality of content on fitnesshealth101 is always of a high standard. Thanks for that. What is your opinion on eating very soon after your brush?

  18. Nice share..
    You plan meals, grab drinks, and play sports without giving much thought to your teeth. But you might not realize how food, beverages, and activities can wreck the health of your pearly whites.

    Sugar is the enemy of your teeth, and the longer it stays in your mouth, the worse it is. Sugar is consumed by acid-producing bacteria in your mouth.

    Beverages are also not good for teeth.

  19. Great Share!
    Really informative and with amazing tips !
    Thanks for giving advice !
    I love coffee but i Really don’t know about this , thanks buddy for this beneficial share!
    Marco Auciello recently posted..Robert’s story…My Profile

  20. Great information shared. :)

    I have to add a point that if you’re an avid Coffee or Tea drinker then you should use straw. This will help in avoiding discoloration of teeth. Discolored teeth look bad actually. Lot of teeth whiteners can give your white colored teeth back.

  21. Luis Pereira says:

    Nice Article!!!
    Luis Pereira recently posted..Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste quiMy Profile

  22. Mary Johnson says:


    Indeed a nice post!!

    I completely agree with you that maintaining good dental health is a cornerstone of living a healthy and fit lifestyle. And nowadays dental problems are some of the most prevalent health issues faced by most of us.

    Snacking also produces less saliva than a proper meal which tends to let bits of food stick to your teeth longer, causing more damage. Starchy food, like potato chips, is the worst offender: the starches react with the bacteria in your dental plaque that break it down into acid which causes tooth enamel to erode.That is the reason that one should avoid eating junk food.

    Warm Regards
    Mary Johnson

  23. Bélise says:

    I’m glad to have found an article on what not to do when it comes to dental hygiene. It’s good to know that chewing on pens and pencils weakens your teeth. I’ll try to stop doing that, as well as chew on toothpicks. Thanks for the helpful tips!

  24. Thanks for the list of bad habits that can damage our tooth, most of people know about this but still not understand why they keep ignoring this.

  25. Among all of these 13 bad habits, I’ve been following the 12 number habit every morning. I actually didn’t know that brushing too hard is bad for teeth, although my brush is soft, but I brush hard whenever I clean my teeth. Looking forward to memorize this habit to avoid carefully. Thanks for a good blog post.

  26. Debra says:

    Thanks for great informations. I regularly use a Toothpick after meals. I know it’s not good for my teeth but I can’t no use them – this is uncomfortable. Maybe I should go to a dentist.
    And about my baby, biting her nails – this is what I was worried, I have made every effort to stop her doing this, but everything does not have result, it does not only affect the teeth but also affect the health of her, What do I have to do now???

  27. Its very true that enamel (outer layering of teeth) is hardest part of body even though we should be very careful about our teeth because tissues of teeth cant be regenerated.So avoid these bad dental habits to prevent damage to your dentition and smile forever.

  28. Really helpful stuff. I appreciate you and your work!
    David Anderson recently posted..Tips for Better Oral HealthMy Profile

  29. Ryan says:

    This is a very informative post! These are all very important tips that we should be careful about! I will be passing this information to my friends and family, thanks for sharing!

  30. Great post!
    thank you so much for sharing this informative post.Tongue and lip piercings are a bad idea if you care about your dental health. Any kind of piercing in this area raises the risk of infections and sores. Metal rubbing against your gums can cause gum damage, which can subsequently lead to tooth loss. Not to mention that accidentally biting down on the metal stud can crack a tooth!Once again thank you sharing. Keep sharing!
    Tabor Lacombe recently posted..Dentiste à Valenciennes : expert en dentisterie esthétiqueMy Profile

  31. Hi, My name is Matthew Tweedie. I am wondering about Quit smoking. Its is vary bad for human health. thanks for sharing this blog-post.

  32. shankar says:

    Caring for oral hygiene is easy and information in this read will make to think twice. Very informative how simple things could affect dental health. We dentist in Mississauga advise and offer valuable information to our patients on how they should be aware of their oral health. Avoid above points would make it more simple to protecting the teeth.

  33. hyden says:

    thanks for the idea and make me think about protecting my teeth

  34. Aaron C. says:

    I agree with point #12. Most people don’t even know they can brush too hard! They think the harder you brush the cleaner your teeth get. Thanks for writing!

  35. Ashok Reddy says:

    This is a good article, thanks for sharing it

  36. Heather says:

    Great list! I’ve definitely noticed a big difference in my oral health since I prioritized flossing. Thanks for sharing!
    Heather recently posted..TestMy Profile

  37. Sara A says:

    Thank you for sharing this helpful post. Maintaining our gums and teeth healthy promote overall health. If we can avoid these bad habits, we’ll be able to show off our pearly whites for a really long time!
    Sara A recently posted..Affordable Veneers in Buford, GAMy Profile

  38. anne says:

    Thanks for sharing this informative article.Keep up the good work

  39. kimmy says:

    I Have no idea these thing are wrecking our teeth thanks for sharing this article and your time that you taken to write this post.

  40. amy says:

    Thanks for the post i really don’t aware of these habits before.But know i got some idea and habit that wrecking my teeth.

  41. Joe Root says:

    I feel nice to reed your article . It helps to know dental awareness and teeth caring. Keep Up the good work always!
    Joe Root recently posted..Demetrios TsiokosMy Profile

  42. Jameson says:

    Wonderful Tips! It would be great to be here. I found a lot of useful information
    Glad I found your blog. Thanks.

  43. Larissa says:

    It’s a good informative post to here about Bad Dental Habits.before i know coffee stains can cause teeth. I feel good to know the useful information! Thank you!

  44. Many of them have the bad dental habit of biting their nail and using teeth as a tool. after reading this post they will clear which is the bad dental habits. Thanks for sharing the useful.

  45. Jill York says:

    Great things you have shared! the advice is help to avoid the bad habits..

  46. Sam Michael says:

    The article is informative, i would like to add that a regular bi-annual exam is very important which includes checking for signs of oral problems like cavities and gum disease. There’s a lot of dentistry related information that i get from my dentists website, even you can check it if you wish to learn more.

  47. Veronica says:

    It’s awesome blog. A Smile is the best part of human life, so we need care about our teeth.

    I would like to share about teeth whitening :
    It’s hard to imagine anything more appealing than a sparkling, white smile. Yet our teeth rarely stay as white as we’d like them to without a little help. Fortunately, that help is available at the dental office.
    Teeth whitening done in a professional dental setting is a safe, effective way to brighten your smile. It’s also perhaps the most economical cosmetic dental procedure.

  48. Obtaining tooth treatment options are very important in order to keep up ones oral health at its finest. A dentist can provide all sorts of services to meet your requirements, like preventative, restorative healing recovery, sedation, as well as cosmetic solutions. Look significantly on each type to learn much more regarding the services.

  49. HenryMark says:

    Oral health has also been linked to disease prevention in other areas. For example, some research has shown that having periodontal disease could raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

  50. A better, more confident you begins every morning and ends every evening if you stick with a consistent oral hygiene routine. This, in addition to regular dentist office visits, helps develop not only strong teeth and gums, but also overall good health. You’ll feel good, look great, avoid unnecessary bills, and experience an improvement in many of your day-to-day social interactions.

  51. Great blog!

    I usually follow blog for all dental health related issues. Its a reliable blog which covers a lot of quries regarding dental health.

  52. Loved your blog. It will surely help many oral patients. Everyone needs to understand that oral care is as important as our mental or physical health. Thank you for sharing this blog.

  53. Carol James says:

    Excellent points! You are so correct, I have specially seen people grinding their teeth with out realizing the harm it causes to the teeth but if common sense is applied then it is so obvious!
    Carol James recently posted..When Should My Child Start Going to the Dentist?My Profile

  54. Liz says:

    Interesting list. I am familiar with most of them, but chewing ice and wine came as a surprise to me. Will try to remember to not chew ice in the future. Not going to quit wine though haha

  55. Wow, I actually never knew some of this information! My dentist in Sugar Land Tx, Bella Smiles, is so great at helping me with my oral health. I’m going to ask them about some of these things!

  56. Thank you for pointing out that chewing on pens can actually loosen the teeth and allow it to fall off eventually. That is one habit of mine that I have been doing since I was a little girl. Now I know that it is not a good thing to do. I will change my ways after I get in touch with a dentist to see if damage has already been dealt.

  57. We recently learned our lesson about playing sports without a mouthguard! My teenage son plays soccer (and I would’ve never thought about an injury — stupid me) and up until a few months ago had never had a serious problem. That was until his front teeth were kicked out during a game on accident. Needless to say, we visited our dentist in Austin, TX and receives not only a custom mouthguard, but also two brand new dental implants! Make sure your children are protected, a mouthguard is about 5-10% the cost of dental implants in Austin, TX!
    Thomas Muller recently posted..When is a Dental Crown Needed?My Profile

  58. Good information for keeping our teeth healthy. We should avoid above mention things for better teeth. Thank you very much for sharing!!

  59. Daenerys says:

    Oh, I haven’t aware of this habits that can affect my tooth but thankfully i found your article its personally very helpful for me.

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