12 Bad Teeth Habits You Need to Stop Now

Bad habits die hard, right? But, these bad dental habits aren’t just annoying. They’re also bad for your teeth. If you do these actions regularly, you wear away the enamel on your teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities, breaking, and discoloration. Not to mention, a host of other problems. 

To avoid bad teeth and unnecessary trips to the dentist, you need to make these lifestyle changes immediately.


1. Biting Your Nails Is a Bad Habit

Nail-biting isn’t a common bad habit among adults. But, studies have shown that 60% of children and 45% of teenagers bite their fingernails. Which is a crucial time in kids’ lives when their permanent teeth grow, and their bite shapes.

You wouldn't think that nail-biting has much of an impact on the health of your teeth. But, regular nail-biting can cause our teeth to shift out of place. What’s worse, it can also potentially result in chips and cracks in the tooth and splinters in the enamel.

Luckily, nail-biting is a relatively easy bad habit to break. Try regularly trimming your nails and applying bitter-tasting nail polish to them. Since nail biting is a common stress reliever, finding another way to relieve stress such as drawing or writing can help people put a stop to this tooth-damaging habit.

2. Chewing On Toothpicks Is Bad For You

How can toothpicks be bad for your teeth? They’re supposed to clean your teeth, not damage them. Right? Actually, toothpicks are bad for your teeth in two different ways: improper use, and chewing on them.

Proper toothpick use can help remove food particles and debris from your teeth. But, if you're not careful, you could damage your tooth enamel, lacerate gum tissue, and even cause a broken tooth. Plus, bonding and veneers can chip or break with improper toothpick use. 

Additionally, aggressive toothpick use could damage the roots of the teeth, especially where the gums have pulled away from the teeth leaving root surfaces exposed. A broken splinter could also lodge itself in the gum, resulting in an infection if not removed. This is just another reason why you should avoid chewing on a toothpick.

To protect your teeth and gums against damage, choose other ways to remove food from your teeth such as dental floss or brushing. If you must use a toothpick, use it carefully so you don't aggravate the gums or cause abrasions on the teeth. And never chew on a toothpick aimlessly.

3. Chewing Ice Can Cause Bad Teeth

The cold temperature and the hardness of ice cubes can cause serious damage to your teeth. Curbing this bad habit is critical to maintaining strong and healthy teeth.

Interestingly, craving and chewing ice may be a sign of anemia. The reason for this craving is unclear, but it’s a common side effect of iron deficiency. Some people crave chewing on ice, paper, or other substances with no nutritional value as a way to relieve stress. 

However, it’s important to point out that chewing on anything unnecessarily is bad for your teeth.

If you have this bad habit, a visit with a physician may be in order to see if you have an iron deficiency. If it's just stress, find a different way to relieve it. Alternatively, simply adding a regular yoga practice to your routine could help you break this bad teeth habit.

4. Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth Is Bad

Clenching or grinding your teeth can cause a significant amount of pressure to the gums and jaw structure and can also cause fractures and micro-fractures in your teeth. (Micro-fractures are weakened areas in your teeth that put them at risk for further damage._

The main cause for teeth grinding is stress. You need to find a healthy way to relieve stress that isn’t bad for your teeth. Coloring, physical exercise, and meditation are excellent stress relievers.

Alternatively, you could also wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth. While it’s a temporary solution that doesn’t break the bad habit, at least it protects your teeth.

5. The Bad Habit of Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is one of the first bad habits we have in our lives. It’s a common stress reliever for babies and young children. While most of us abandon thumb sucking by age 8, many adults still turn to this bad habit in times of stress.

But, it’s dangerous to suck on your thumbs after your permanent teeth have come in. Even if you were born with perfectly aligned teeth, thumb sucking could cause changes to the alignment of your teeth and jaw. This can result in eating and breathing difficulties. And the only way to correct misaligned teeth is with braces.

The best way to avoid developing bad teeth from thumb sucking is to abandon this bad habit once and for all.

6. Biting Pencils Causes Bad Teeth

As a child gets older, he or she may substitute thumb sucking for other actions like chewing on pencils and other objects. This action could be a nervous tick or simply a way to handle stress. But, it could also be a symptom of anemia.

Holding an object such as a pen or pencil between your teeth can supply a significant amount of pressure on your teeth and gums. This can result in cracked or loose teeth and other dental issues.

Putting a stop to this bad habit before any damage is done can help your teeth stay healthy and strong for a very long time.  

7. Biting Into Lemons Can Be Bad For Your Teeth

Lemons are very healthy. They’re a great source of vitamin C, they have detoxifying benefits, and they improve alertness. But, biting into a lemon is a bad idea.

Lemons contain high levels of citric acid which can quickly wear away the enamel on your teeth. This can then result in greater tooth issues including cavities. Even sipping water with a lemon slice can damage the enamel to some degree.

If you crave that tartness and you must have that lemon fix, at least swish your mouth with water afterward. Don’t let the acidic taste of lemon linger on your teeth, as it does more damage.

8. Brushing Too Hard Is Also Bad For Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth is a crucial part of proper dental care. You need to do it twice a day as part of your dental hygiene routine. But, brushing wrong is also bad for your teeth. 

If you brush too hard, you can also damage your enamel, irritate your gums, and cause cavities. This is why it’s crucial to always brush your teeth in the right manner. Brushing harder doesn’t mean that your teeth will be cleaner.

To help prevent damage caused by brushing your teeth too hard, choose a good toothbrush. One that’s firm enough to remove plaque but soft enough not to cause damage to the enamel. A soft-bristled toothbrush can also help prevent gum damage.

Better teeth brushing habits include brushing for at least two minutes, using a light touch, and holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.

9. Brushing Right After Eating Isn’t a Good Habit Either

Leftover food particles after eating can damage your teeth. And the best way to clean your teeth is to brush them. So, it’s logical to brush your teeth after eating, right? A lot of people think so, but the reality is quite different.

Turns out that brushing your teeth right after eating is a bad habit as well. Your teeth are still sensitive, and brushing can easily wear away your teeth’ enamel. Especially after breakfast with acidic foods like coffee or orange juice.

Wait 30 minutes to an hour after eating to brush your teeth. Better yet, brush your teeth before breakfast in the morning to take care of your dental hygiene in the safest way possible.

10. You Need to Stop Using Your Teeth as a Tool

People often use their teeth as tools for a variety of tasks. You can tear open a bag of potato chips, uncap a bottle of nail polish, straighten a bent fork tine, or rip a price tag off a piece of clothing. It might seem convenient at the time but it's a bad idea for the long-term health of your teeth. 

Using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip, especially at the edges. Even if you brush and take care of your dental hygiene regularly, you can develop bad teeth from this. After all, you wouldn’t want a dental emergency to happen to you.

Putting a stop to this bad habit will help protect your teeth against preventable damage. A simple way to break this bad habit is to keep real tools handy. You’ll be less likely to resort to using your teeth instead.

11. Drinking Soda Is Bad For You and Your Teeth

Over half of the population of the United States drinks at least one can of soda a day. Soda is really bad for your health overall, and it’s also very bad for your teeth. Carbonated beverages tend to be very acidic. 

Drinking soda regularly can cause tooth decay around your gum line and weaken your enamel. There is also a significant amount of sugar in soda. One of the major contributors to cavities is too much sugar consumption. Finally, if losing your teeth isn’t scary enough for you, soda also stains your teeth. So, it’s also bad for your teeth aesthetically.

But, what about sugar-free soda? Drinking sugar-free or diet soda might give us some benefits such as lower calories, but it still contains harmful acids that damage the tooth enamel.

Your best bet when it comes to protecting your teeth and gums is to eliminate carbonated beverages altogether. The initial transition to healthier beverages might be a challenge. However, you’ll stop craving it or enjoying it if you do decide to drink it again eventually. 

Cutting soda from your diet won't just have dental health benefits. It will be good for the rest of your body as well.

12. Smoking Is the Ultimate Bad Habit for Teeth

Smoking is probably the most well-known bad habit. Smoking significantly increases your chance of developing cancer. It also contributes to wrinkles and signs of aging. But, one of the biggest negative effects of smoking happens in your dental health. After all, your teeth are the first to come into contact with the harmful ingredients of smoke.

Smoking also causes more dental plaque and accelerates the severity of gum disease. Other dental health issues include periodontal disease and bone loss. Smoking also causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. 

This makes people who smoke more susceptible to infections and hinders the body's ability to properly heal infected gums. Not to mention how smoking stains your teeth.

If you think smokeless tobacco is better, think again. Just one can of chewing tobacco delivers more nicotine than over 60 cigarettes. The tobacco irritates the gum tissue, causing gum recession, root exposure, and eventually tooth decay. The exposed roots can cause difficulty in eating or drinking as they are more sensitive to hot and cold.

If that wasn’t bad enough, sometimes they add sugar to smokeless tobacco to improve flavor. Which means an even greater risk of tooth decay. Not to mention that tobacco often contains sand and grit which furthers the damage to the teeth and gums.

There are a million and one reasons why you should stop smoking or chewing tobacco. And if you care for your teeth, you’ll need to quit this bad habit immediately. It’s hard. No doubt. However, nicotine patches and therapy can go a long way in curbing your cravings.

Get Your Bad Teeth Fixed For Cheaper

Quitting these unhealthy habits is crucial to protect your teeth and oral health. If you keep doing them, you may experience a lot of pain, lose teeth, and develop life-threatening conditions. And even if you manage to break these bad habits, your teeth may need some care to go back to their healthy state.

Don’t wait to have your bad teeth fixed because of the cost. With a Carefree Dental Card, you can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* per visit on your dental bill in most instances.

Ready to save on getting healthy teeth? Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.


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