Dental Habits: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Jan 3, 2024

Habits: they shape our lives, influencing our routines, decisions, and, ultimately, our well-being. From the moment we wake up to the time we go to bed, they can impact our overall health and quality of life. When it comes to our oral health, the habits we practice each day can determine whether we'll boast the brightest, healthiest smiles in the future or endure discomfort, health problems, and countless trips to the dentist in Coral Gables, FL.

We've compiled a comprehensive guide to take a closer look at the habits that shape our oral health. Here, you'll find the well-known good habits that promote strong teeth and some surprising ones you may not have considered. We'll also go over the worst offenders that may catch you by surprise.

woman eating strawberry as advised by her Dentist in Coral Gables FL

Good Habits for Dental Health

Sticking to the basics is key when keeping your teeth and gums healthy. These simple yet essential habits form the foundation of good dental hygiene.  

Regular Oral Care Routine  

Consistent brushing and flossing form the foundation of good dental hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Make sure to floss at least once daily to remove plaque and food particles between your teeth and the gumline. This routine helps prevent cavities and gum disease by keeping your mouth clean and healthy.  

Healthy Dietary Choices

A balanced diet plays an important role in maintaining dental health. Focus on consuming various fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to provide essential nutrients for strong teeth and gums. Limiting sugary snacks and beverages reduces tooth decay risk and promotes overall oral health.  

Hydration and Mouthwash  

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps rinse away food debris and bacteria, promoting saliva production and reducing the risk of dry mouth. Additionally, incorporating a fluoride or antibacterial mouthwash into your oral care routine can provide added protection against cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

Regular Dental Check-ups  

Routine dental check-ups and professional cleanings are essential for maintaining optimal oral health. Schedule visits with your dentist in Coral Gables, FL, at least twice a year for comprehensive examinations and cleanings. These appointments allow for early detection of dental issues and preventive care to keep your smile healthy and bright.

Proper Toothbrush Maintenance

Caring for your toothbrush is important to ensure effective plaque removal and prevent bacterial growth. Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three to four months. Do it sooner if the bristles become worn or frayed. It's crucial to keep your toothbrush clean and in good condition to maintain good dental hygiene.

Surprising Good Habits You Didn't Know

Sometimes, the things we least expect can positively impact our dental health. Discovering these unexpected habits can offer new insights into how to care for our teeth and gums.

Chewing Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing sugar-free gum after meals can actually be beneficial for your dental health. It stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize acids in the mouth, remineralize tooth enamel, and wash away food particles. Look for gum sweetened with xylitol, a sugar substitute shown to reduce the risk of cavities.

Drinking Green Tea

Green tea contains compounds called catechins that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Regularly drinking green tea may help reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Plus, it's a refreshing beverage choice that promotes overall health.

Eating Cheese

Cheese lovers, rejoice! Eating cheese, particularly hard cheeses like cheddar, can actually benefit your dental health. Cheese is rich in calcium and phosphates, which help remineralize tooth enamel and strengthen teeth. It also stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize acids and protect against cavities.

Using Straws for Sugary Drinks

Using a straw when indulging in sugary beverages like soda or fruit juice can help minimize contact between the liquid and your teeth. This reduces the risk of tooth decay and enamel erosion by limiting the exposure of your teeth to harmful sugars and acids. Opt for reusable or biodegradable straws to reduce environmental impact.

Eating Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables

Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery act as natural toothbrushes, scrubbing away plaque and food particles as you chew. Additionally, they stimulate saliva production, which helps rinse away debris and neutralize acids in the mouth. Snacking on these healthy foods can contribute to better oral health.

woman biting her nails needs a Dentist in Coral Gables FL

Bad Dental Habits You Didn't Know

You might not realize it, but certain habits can secretly damage your teeth and gums. Learning about these unexpected habits can help you steer clear of trouble and keep your smile healthy.

Nail Biting

Many people are unaware that nail biting can negatively affect dental health. Constantly biting your nails can chip or crack your teeth, particularly if you accidentally bite on a hard nail or cuticle. It can also contribute to jaw problems, such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), due to the repetitive strain on the jaw muscles.

Chewing Ice  

Chewing on ice may seem harmless, but it can actually be detrimental to your dental health. Ice is a hard substance that can wear down tooth enamel and increase the risk of dental fractures and cracks. Constantly crunching on ice cubes can weaken teeth over time, leading to sensitivity and other oral health issues.

Using Teeth as Tools  

Using your teeth as tools to open bottles, tear packages, or hold objects can cause significant damage. Your teeth are designed for biting and chewing food, not for performing tasks such as ripping open packages or holding items. These actions can chip, crack, or even break your teeth, requiring costly dental repairs.  

Chewing on Pens or Pencils  

Many people have a habit of chewing on pens or pencils when deep in thought or feeling anxious, but this habit can harm your teeth. Biting down on hard objects like pens or pencils can cause microfractures in the teeth over time, leading to tooth sensitivity and potential dental problems. It's best to find alternative ways to cope with stress or anxiety.

Sipping Sugary Drinks Throughout the Day

Sipping on sugary beverages like soda, juice, or energy drinks throughout the day exposes your teeth to constant sugar and acid attacks, increasing the risk of tooth decay and cavities. Additionally, drinking through a straw can bypass saliva's natural rinsing action, allowing sugars to linger on the teeth longer and leading to greater dental damage.

The Worst Habits for Dental Health

Some habits can spell disaster for your teeth and gums, causing more harm than good. Recognizing these detrimental habits is crucial for maintaining a healthy smile.

Smoking and Tobacco Use

Tobacco use, whether through smoking cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco, is one of the worst habits for dental health. It stains teeth, causes bad breath, and significantly increases the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer. Smoking restricts blood flow to the gums, impairing their ability to heal and fight off infections, leading to severe oral health issues.

Poor Oral Hygiene Practices

Neglecting basic oral hygiene practices such as regular brushing and flossing is detrimental to dental health. Failing to remove plaque and food debris allows harmful bacteria to thrive in the mouth, leading to cavities, gum disease, and other serious oral health problems. Without proper oral care, teeth can decay, gums can recede, and tooth loss may occur.  

Ignoring Dry Mouth

Chronic dry mouth can significantly impact dental health. Saliva is key in neutralizing acids, washing away food particles, and remineralizing tooth enamel. The risk of cavities, gum disease, and oral infections increases without adequate saliva production. Addressing underlying causes of dry mouth, such as medication side effects or certain medical conditions, and staying hydrated can help alleviate symptoms and protect oral health.

Overuse of Whitening Products

While teeth whitening products can effectively brighten smiles, overuse or misuse can harm dental health. Excessive use of whitening toothpaste, strips, or professional treatments can weaken tooth enamel, cause gum irritation, and increase tooth sensitivity. Following recommended usage guidelines and consulting with your dentist in Coral Gables, FL, before starting any whitening regimen can help prevent adverse effects and ensure safe and effective results.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding and Clenching)  

Bruxism, or the habit of grinding or clenching teeth, can seriously affect dental health. The constant pressure and friction exerted on teeth can wear down enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity, fractures, and even tooth loss. Bruxism also strains the jaw muscles and joints, causing temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and related pain.

Avoiding Dental Check-ups and Treatment  

Ignoring dental problems and avoiding regular check-ups and treatment is one of the worst habits for dental health. Delaying or neglecting professional dental care allows oral health issues to worsen over time, leading to more extensive and expensive treatments in the future.  

Dentist in Coral Gables FL

Looking for the Best Dentist in Coral Gables, FL?

These habits for dental health are key to maintaining a radiant smile. However, one of the most vital steps is scheduling regular dental check-ups. At Coral Gables Dentistry, we're here to help you with this important aspect of oral care. So, don't wait until problems arise – contact us today to schedule your next check-up!


We value your time, so we always run on schedule, respecting your commitments, with no double bookings and minimal wait times. Experience dentistry like never before in our award-winning clinic.

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