CARY, N.C. (WSPA) – It’s not too early to get started on healthy resolutions for a brighter, whiter smile. In addition to daily brushing and flossing routines, the North Carolina Dental Society recommends avoiding brushing too hard, biting your nails, grinding your teeth or chewing ice when trying to keep your pearly whites in tiptop shape. Breaking these bad habits can keep your mouth healthy and help avoid costly emergency trips to the dentist.

“Stress, anxiety and nervousness can trigger bad habits that destroy your mouth, such as biting your nails or clenching your teeth,” said Dr. Dan Cheek of Hillsborough. “Talk to your dentist about ways to break these tendencies. Something as simple as painting your nails or sleeping with a mouthguard could save you thousands of dollars in dental visits and corrective treatments in the long run.”

In addition, constantly snacking on sugary foods or using your teeth as scissors can lead to long-term oral health concerns or might even result in a painful dental emergency. The NC Dental Society suggests ways to break six nasty habits that can destroy your teeth:

  • Nail biting. Fight this nervous habit that can chip your teeth and impact your jaw by investing in bitter-tasting nail polishes and practicing stress reduction exercises.
  • Brushing too hard. You’re encouraged to brush for two minutes, twice a day, but choose a soft toothbrush and “massage” your teeth rather than “scrub” them.
  • Grinding and clenching. A nighttime mouthguard can help decrease pain and muscle soreness, and help avoid chipped teeth.
  • Chewing ice. Avoid chipped teeth and broken fillings by using a straw and drinking chilled beverages without ice.
  • Constant snacking. Grazing all day on sugary foods and drinks puts you at an increased risk for cavities, so eat balanced meals to feel fuller, longer.
  • Using your teeth as tools. Your teeth were made for eating, not to act as scissors or to hold things when your hands are full. To avoid cracked teeth, jaw injuries or accidentally swallowing something, always use the proper tool for job.

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