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Pagophagia: The compulsive consumption of ice
It’s hot outside and you’re craving a chill, so you start to crunch on ice, non-stop. STOP! We get it; the feel and the crunching sound of biting down on something cold is soothing. However, it is like a wrecking ball being tossed around your mouth with great force causing destruction to your teeth.
Concern: chewing on ice wears down tooth enamel and increases your sensitivity to hot and cold. The constant change of temperature on your teeth will also cause small cracks in the enamel. You may crack a filling, puncture your gums or damage a tooth nerve requiring a root canal.
Solution: if you feel the urge to chew, try sugar free gum. This will settle your urge to chew on something while flavoring your breath! WIN!
Onychophagia: Nail biting
Maybe you’re hungry, bored, stressed or just super impulsive. You bite your nails to soothe these urges. Not only is it unattractive, this habit is extremely dangerous.
Concern: you may be introducing your body to bacteria that cause infections. Dirt and daily filth collect under those pesky nail beads that you’re biting. Bacteria enters your mouth causing bad breath and promoting gum disease.
Solution: eat foods rich in calcium and magnesium, these will help repair and grow your nails. Also, distract your mouth by chewing gum, munching on carrot sticks or sucking on a lollipop — sugar free, of course.
Bruxism: Teeth grinding
Most who brux do so at night while unconscious. Do you wake up in the morning with jaw pain? Grinding your teeth can lead to jaw disorders, headaches and damaged teeth.
Concern: Teeth grinding increases sensitivity, wears down your enamel, causes pain and makes your teeth susceptible to other dental problems. Grinding is sometimes so forceful that it can even damage your jaw causing temporomandibular disorders or TMD.
Solution: It is important that you get to the bottom of what is causing you to grind your teeth. UDA Chicago recommends you see your dentist right away, as they will be able to determine the seriousness of your grinding situation.
Chew on that, Chicago
All of these habits can eventually cause tooth decay and, even worse, tooth loss. Make sure you stay on top of your oral health to maintain that beautiful smile.