Many people who feel stressed out resort to harmful oral habits as a coping mechanism, such as nail biting, teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and chewing on pencils, pens or other objects. Exhibiting these behaviors can cause even more problems down the road.
Following is a breakdown of these bad habits and the complications they can cause:
Chronic nail biting can crack, chip or wear down the front teeth, due to the pressure applied to them, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Biting nails can push your teeth out of alignment, as well as cause damage to your gum tissue. Those rough fingernail edges can cut your gums and allow bacteria from your nails to spread elsewhere throughout your body via the bloodstream.
One study published in the “General Dentistry” journal found that nail biting might be a bruxism risk factor.
This term describes teeth grinding and jaw clenching, and it often happens while sleeping.
It isn’t just stress and anxiety that cause bruxism. It also can be caused by sleep disorders, a bad bite, or missing or crooked teeth, according to the American Dental Association.
People who have bruxism often experience:
- Dull headaches
- Sore jaws
- Facial pain
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Painful, loose teeth
- Tooth fractures
- Worn tooth enamel
It also can leave the ends of the teeth with a blunt appearance. Orthodontic treatment may eliminate bruxism by bringing teeth into proper alignment and correcting the abnormal bite. We also can recommend a mouth guard to provide a cushion of protection to the teeth while you sleep.
Teeth grinding is common among children, and often is eventually outgrown because they’re growing quickly and their teeth and jaws are changing as a result.
Chewing on foreign objects
You shouldn’t chew on pens, pencils and other foreign objects for similar reasons that we recommend you avoid chewing on your fingernails. Foreign objects can potentially create even sharper edges than fingernails and cause more extensive damage to soft tissue.
Playing with oral piercings
We are not fans of oral piercings here at Orthodontics Only, due to the damage they can cause to teeth and gums. It’s also frustrating to see someone go through orthodontic treatment to achieve a beautiful smile, and then have them add a foreign object that may take away from the hard work that went into aligning the teeth.
It is common to see people with oral piercings play with them by running them along their teeth or biting them, either out of nervousness, habit, or simply because it’s a foreign object. Tongue and lip rings can chip teeth and cause gum recession. We have seen instances where lip rings have worn grooves in the ends of the teeth. Our friends at Triangle Pediatric Dentistry in Wake Forest, North Carolina have seen a number of issues arise due to oral piercings when it comes to student athletes. Before getting that lip or tongue ring, you may want to think about the overall affect it will have on your teeth, gums and mouth.
Our advice is to avoid this fashion statement altogether and look for a less harmful way to express yourself.
Stress Caused by Your Teeth
We know stress can be caused by lots of things – finances, marriage or divorce, moving to a new home, and even illness or injury. In our line of work, we often see people’s teeth cause them stress. That’s right. Some people stress themselves out trying to avoid showing their teeth. They may avoid smiling with their lips open, or sometimes they cover their mouths with their hands when laughing.
Life is too short to live like that. Orthodontic treatment can help reveal a smile you’ll be proud to show off. Please call today if you would like to schedule an orthodontic evaluation.