They also give us our smiles! These are the uses our teeth are for, but we risk causing serious damage to them when we use them as tools for other jobs.
Nail-biting is a habit that can do enough damage to fill its own blog post, but it ties into the topic of proper and improper uses for teeth. The area underneath our fingernails is essentially impossible to properly clean. Germs love to grow there, and they transfer to our mouths when we bite our nails. Nail-biting also causes a lot of unnecessary wear and tear to the front teeth, potentially even shifting them out of place.
Apart from biting nails, it may sometimes seem convenient to bite through something like a piece of tape. The sawing motion to cut through tape involves a lot of grinding that damages the surface of the teeth. It’s not the same as a chewing motion. Some people even use their teeth on materials like wire, which can wear notches into them. It’s worth the extra few seconds to use scissors or pliers instead!
If you enjoy pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, or even the half-popped kernels at the bottom of the popcorn bag, don’t use your teeth to crack them. It’s a great way to chip or crack a tooth, especially one that’s already undergone a dental procedure or one that has an untreated cavity. It’s much safer to use your hands or a nutcracker.
Tooth enamel might be the hardest substance in the human body, but it’s much too brittle to withstand metal bottle caps. A tooth can chip on the edge, and even a little slip could result in a nasty gash on the lips or gums. Even if you think it looks cool to open a bottle with your teeth, we as dental professionals urge you to use an actual bottle opener.
If we’re in the middle of a busy task and run out of hands to hold things, it can be easy to briefly stick a pencil, some nails, or a few sewing pins in our mouths until we have a hand free. The added convenience isn’t worth the risks. Being hit with a sudden yawn, hiccup, sneeze, or cough, or even tripping over something could end in disaster.
Even without anything that dramatic, these items cause unusual wear on the chewing surfaces. Seamstresses who hold sewing pins in the same spots between their teeth over the years wear dents into them. Just use the pincushion instead!
Fracturing and cracks are the third-highest cause of tooth loss, and we significantly reduce the risk of needing an emergency dental visit and a series of expensive restorative procedures if we only use our teeth for chewing and speaking. Also make sure to brush twice a day, floss daily, and schedule your regular dental checkups!