Humans are creatures of habit. Once a routine is set, it’s pretty easy to stick to it. Of course, it’s also easy to get stuck in the rut of bad habits.
Many common habits have serious side effects for your health, but also for your teeth. Could the health of your mouth be that little added push needed to break a bad habit? Read on to see why your smile wants you to, “Say no to Camel Joe” – and other harmful vices too.
- What’s included: Any form – cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and smokeless tobacco products.
- Dental damage: Tobacco products cause a mouthful of problems. Cigarettes, as well as smokeless tobacco and marijuana, cause dry mouth and reduce your gums’ ability to heal from infection and inflammation – making it easier for gum disease to develop. Tobacco products also increase the risk for oral cancers, and chewing tobacco especially has been known to cause cancers leading to the loss of teeth, tongue tissue and the entire lower jaw. Not to mention, unsightly yellow stains and receding gums.
- Whole health harm: Most people know smoking can lead to lung cancer and a host of other aliments, but not nearly as many realize smokeless tobacco can do just as much harm. Tobacco products cause heart disease, lung, mouth, tongue and throat cancers, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, respiratory problems, discolored skin and nails, and thin or brittle hair.
- What’s included: Pencil erasers, pen caps, fingernails – even ice cubes!
- Dental damage: Teeth are tough, but their not designed to take the kind of abuse these objects can cause. Fracture lines, chips and cracks are a common result of mindless chewing on foreign objects. These small dings weaken the tooth structure and can add up to painful and expensive procedures.
- Whole health harm: Small objects are chocking hazards, for children and adults alike. And just think of all the germs residing on a pen or lurking under fingernails – yuck!
- What’s included: Frequent or excessive consumption of beer, wine, or liquor.
- Dental damage: Heavy drinking increases your risk of oral cancer, most likely because it makes cells in the mouth more susceptible to change. This is especially true when combined with tobacco use. Between 75 and 80 percent of oral cancer patients are frequent drinkers – the more you drink, the higher your risk of oral cancer.
- Whole health harm: Alcohol use effects almost every system in the body and increases risk for many cancers, heart disease, stroke, kidney and liver diseases, obesity, arthritis and many other health problems. Excessive alcohol use can also lead to mental and social problems.
Late Night Snacking
- What’s included: Cookies in bed, a midnight snack, and even a glass of milk – anything consumed after nightly brushing routine.
- Dental damage: During the night, saliva production is inconsistent. Eating or drinking anything but water before falling asleep provides an ideal setting for enamel-eroding acid to attack. Curb nighttime cravings by eating balanced meals throughout the day. If you do indulge in a midnight snack, be sure to brush before returning to bed.
- Whole health harm: Excessive snacking can lead to obesity, which causes many health complications. If you have trouble sleeping through the night, you may have a sleep disorder, so you should talk to your doctor.