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Involuntary Oral Habits That Are Eating Away Your Smile.

BDS, FICOI, MDS
Dentist, Mumbai  •  10 years experience
Involuntary Oral Habits That Are Eating Away Your Smile.

Clenching or night grinding.

If you have ever experienced a strong emotion of either anger or resolve you may realise our body tenses up and our teeth clench. If this is not a frequent occurrence the damage maybe minimal but as sports people or someone with a bad temper you may actually end up wearing down your teeth considerably. Now a large part of this habit is semi voluntary you can remind yourself to control it but a few people suffer from an entirely involuntary condition called night grinding or bruxism.

Unfortunately here you have no awareness of doing the grinding except maybe waking up with a sore jaw or a headache but the person sleeping beside you can even hear you gnashing your teeth. Needless to say the damage this is silent destroyer is causing is significant and rapid. The best solution if diagnosed with this habit is to start wearing a night guard which is a thin plastic appliance that fits snugly on your teeth similar to a sports guard so that it protects your teeth and wears down before your teeth do. Also the jaw separation it creates puts your muscles at ease and they don't get activated or clench anymore.

Mouth breathing.

Many people are unaware of this habit entirely. A very common condition mouth breathing occurs more so when you're sleeping and tend to breathe more through your mouth than your nose.

This condition can be a result of the way your nasal passages and throat are shaped. It commonly occurs in people with a deviated nasal septum as well. The main sign to know if you're mouth breathing or not is if you wake up with an extremely dry mouth, at times bad breathe and tend to have red irritated gums that bleed often on brushing.

Mouth breathing also predisposes you to snoring so if you haven't started yet if you're a mouth breather chances are you will start snoring as well.

It usually can be corrected surgically and if not severe snoring particularly can be corrected by oral appliances or oxygen machines which supplement the air reaching your lungs.

Tongue thrusting.

This habit develops at childhood or birth and is also attributed to the tongue shape and the structure of the palate and throat. A person having this habit tends to push the teeth out while swallowing as a result they present with spaced out teeth and a large tongue.

To prevent the need for braces catching this habit early on and wearing an appliance to control it would be best. If spaces have already increased then best form of closing the gaps would be either with braces or by cosmetic fillings.

Cheek biting.

A surprisingly unnoticeable habit people tend to chew their inner cheek or parts of their lip when under stress or deep thought. While this habit can seem harmless it can create a long term wound in the mouth which can either balloon up with fluids or be subject to infection. Chronic injuries or wounds should never be left unnoticed and habits like these should be discontinued to avoid discomfort and the eventual need for treatment.

Exposure to alternating extremes of temperature.

Another very ignorant but seemingly harmless habit is to eat a hot meal and down it with a glass of ice cold water or have a hot drink and second it with ice cream. While the effects of this habit may only show up in the long term what it does is create an impact on the enamel and slowly cause the teeth to become sensitive.

While our teeth are extremely hardy and don't breakdown until exposed to hundreds of millions of such daily stimuli, the best solution is to keep an intermittent time gap between the extremes of temperature in order not to shock the nerves that rest within your teeth to become hypersensitive.

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