June 21, 2022
Posted In Featured

Hard Habits to Break: 8 Ways to Improve Your Oral Health

Let’s be honest: We all have bad habits. Some of us smoke, some of us bite our nails, and some of us watch way too many home improvement shows and start tearing up our walls. No? Okay, the last one is a little far-fetched, but there’s no denying we all have bad habits. Some of those bad habits can do real damage to our oral health and, therefore, our overall health. 

The team at Innovative Orthodontics has seen several bad habits cause tooth damage, from smoking to ice chewing. You might be surprised at how many bad habits can damage your teeth. The good news is we have a few suggestions and methods to help you break those bad habits!


Chewing ice is a habit many people have, but it’s terrible for your teeth. It also may signal underlying health problems. Chewing ice wear down your enamel over time and make your teeth more susceptible to sensitivity and pain. It can also crack or chip your teeth.

Chewing ice is a huge no-no if you’re wearing braces or clear aligners because the hard ice can break wires, loosen brackets, and damage aligner trays. Any hard foods, including candies and tortilla chips, could damage your braces. If you’re getting treatment, you’ll need to immediately break the hard food habit. 

If you still feel the need to chew ice, consider a call to your regular doctor. Aside from being a bad habit, chewing ice can also be a sign of an iron deficiency.  When iron levels in the blood are too low, the body struggles to produce new red blood cells. Other symptoms include fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. It’s a condition that needs to be addressed right away.

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We love it when our patients brush their teeth regularly because it’s important to maintain great oral health. But did you know you can brush your teeth too hard? It’s true! While brushing can keep your teeth healthy, brushing too hard can actually damage your teeth. 

Dentists have reported patients with damaged teeth or gums because of overbrushing or brushing too hard. Excessive force can damage the soft tissue of the gums and wear away the enamel — the protective outer shell of the tooth. Patients also show up with cut gums from brushing too hard. They even have receding gums from brushing too hard. 

Brushing too hard can damage braces, too. Your brackets are cemented tightly to your teeth, but excessive force during brushing can loosen brackets and break wires. 

We recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush, whether you have braces or not. You also need to brush gently. Don’t press hard on your toothbrush. To break your habit of excessive force, consider getting an electric toothbrush. Allow that toothbrush to do the scrubbing for you, and take it easy when you brush! 

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Here’s another bad habit to break: chewing on things you shouldn’t. We’ve seen more than one patient come in with a chipped tooth or broken braces wire. In some cases, the cause is because they were chewing on something they shouldn’t or used their teeth in a way they weren’t meant to be used. 


Everyone’s done it. You’re trying to open a package, a bottle, that “child safety cap” that no adult can open, and you decide to use your teeth when everything else seems to fail. Unfortunately, that’s a great way to end up with a chipped tooth! 


What happens when you run out of hands? You use your teeth, of course! No big deal, right? Wrong. You may not realize how tight you’re holding something with your teeth until you chip a tooth. Your teeth may seem like a convenient place to hold items, but they’re not. Try to break that habit. 


Teeth are made for chewing food. They were not made for chewing pencils, pens, or other hard objects. Chewing objects like this can be a bad habit that needs to be broken. Otherwise, it may be your teeth that end up broken! There’s another good reason to break this habit — some of these objects are constructed of materials that can be toxic if ingested. It’s best to stick to chewing food. 


Nail-biting is a common bad habit that affects up to half of adults and a quarter of teenagers. It’s an addictive habit with several adverse effects. Aside from irritating your fingertips and injuring your nails, you put extra stress on your teeth and jaws when you chew your nails. You also transfer all the germs on your hands to your mouth. Not only does this increase your chances of getting sick, but it also increases the chances of getting an infection in your mouth. Biting your nails can weaken your enamel and cause chips to your teeth. Over time, they can also move your teeth out of position.  Break this habit for your overall health, and your nails will thank you for it.


As with your teeth, bad habits such as chewing objects, opening items with your teeth, and nail-biting can break your braces and teeth. Hard objects can break wires, loosen brackets, or even pop brackets off your teeth. That can lead to an expensive repair of your braces. It can also lead to the discomfort of a broken wire poking your cheek or tongue.

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One of the worst bad habits is smoking because it’s so detrimental to your health. We all know smoking can cause lung disease, heart disease, and emphysema, but did you know it can also cause problems with your oral health? 

Smoking can cause or accelerate gum disease. It can cause tooth loss, and it can even cause mouth cancer. The most common and obvious effect of smoking is yellow teeth. The chemicals in cigarettes will stain your teeth yellow. This is made worse by braces and clear aligners, which trap particles against your teeth and yellow them even faster. Smoking will also discolor your clear aligners or clear braces. 

Quitting smoking can be challenging. Several over-the-counter products are available to help you quit, or you can speak to us or your doctor about alternatives to help you break this bad habit.


Thumbsucking is a bad habit that can have a terrible effect on your teeth. You may be surprised to learn that studies show one in 10 adults suck their thumbs. Dentists and orthodontists recommend that your child stops sucking their thumb before age three. Some, however, suck their thumb beyond that — even into adulthood. 

Sucking your thumb causes your palate (roof of your mouth) to become misshapen. Not only does this affect your bite, it can also push into your sinus cavity and cause breathing problems. Thumb sucking can cause an overbite or deep bite, or misalign your jaw and make your teeth crooked. Chances are, you will need orthodontic treatment after breaking the thumbsucking habit. 

Innovative Orthodontics has ways to help you break your thumbsucking habit, including installing appliances such as a tongue crib to keep you from sucking your thumb. The tongue crib will also retrain your tongue to move back off your teeth, so you’ll be ready to move those buck teeth back where they belong.

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While breaking the bad habits, ensure you’re maintaining the good ones. Specifically, make sure you’re brushing and flossing your teeth properly and daily. This is especially important if you have braces because a lack of good oral hygiene could cause tooth discoloration around your braces. 

We recommend you floss at least once a day using a good dental floss (preferably waxed, as it moves through the teeth easier). Brush your teeth at least twice daily, although after every meal is preferred. You should brush for at least two minutes each time. Though it’s not required, rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash about a half-hour after brushing will help prevent gum disease and keep your enamel strong. 

Be diligent during treatment with braces or Invisalign because your braces and clear aligners can trap particles against your teeth, otherwise increasing your chances of gum disease and tooth decay.

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We usually wait for New Year’s resolutions to decide to break habits, but when it comes to your oral health, the sooner, the better! Innovative Orthodontics can help you break bad dental habits and return your smile to the way it should be through braces or Invisalign treatment. 

We treat patients in the Sicklerville, Woolrich Township, and Mount Laurel areas of New Jersey. You can start with a free consultation, where we will provide a thorough examination and a treatment plan that works best for you. We can also answer any questions you may have about breaking bad habits that are damaging your oral health. So if you’re ready to break those bad habits and get the smile of your dreams, we’re prepared to help!

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