25 Habits That Cause Dental Problems, According to Dentists

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If you’ve ever found yourself phoning it in when it comes to your dental care, you’re not alone. According to the World Dental Federation, 3.9 billion people worldwide suffer from untreated tooth decay. In fact, according to a 2014 study from Delta Dental, 31 percent of adults polled admitted that they didn’t even brush their teeth twice a day. However, it’s not just skipping visits to the dentist and forgetting to floss that could be causing serious damage to your oral health. With the help of experts, we’ve rounded up the seemingly minor mistakes you’re making with your teeth that could lead to major dental problems in the long run. And if you’ve got an appointment coming up, discover 7 Precautions You Must Take Before Going to the Dentist Amid Coronavirus.

young white woman biting nails in kitchen
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That nervous habit of biting your nails is doing more than leaving your hands looking ragged.

This is especially true if your nail breaks off in between your teeth because “the interdental gap is very narrow and stays there,” leaving a potentially permanent space between your teeth, explains dentist Henry Hackney, DMD, of Authority Dental.

If that piece of nail stays stuck between your teeth, “it makes it difficult to remove food residue during cleaning and accelerates the formation of cavities,” says Hackney. And for more behaviors to ditch, start with these 7 Bad Habits Experts Say Are Even Worse in the Age of Coronavirus.

young asian woman picking food out of teeth
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While it may seem perfectly reasonable to try to remove stuck pieces of food with whatever you’ve got handy, doing so with anything other than floss could lead to bigger issues in the long run.

“Patients try to pull out the leftovers of food with various objects that they have at hand. These include hair, plastic cutlery, foils, pieces of material,” says Hackney. Unfortunately, if these folks have preexisting damage to their dental enamel, “particles of these objects stay between the teeth,” causing further degradation. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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Think you can grab a bite before you head to the dentist? Think again.

While Hackney says that dentists have the tools necessary to clean your teeth even after you’ve just eaten, “it is nice if you have brushed your teeth before the visit or at least rinsed them. This makes it much faster and easier to see cavities,” he explains.

Soda Water
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While opting for carbonated water instead of sugary drinks may get a thumbs up from your general practitioner, the same can’t be said for your dentist. According to Adam Silevitch, DMD, a partner at Pediatric Dentists NYC, seltzer can cause serious problems for those who drink it regularly. “Even if it’s unflavored, it contains carbonic acid, which can wear away tooth enamel,” says Silevitch. While you may be unwilling to ditch that soda water entirely, drinking more non-carbonated water in addition to the fizzy stuff can help.

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Though a squeeze of lemon might do wonders for your water’s

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