(Don’t) Chew on This: 3 Ways to Prevent Cracking a Tooth

Human teeth are tough. Largely comprised of minerals like calcium and phosphorus and covered in enamel – the body’s hardest substance – teeth are designed to last a lifetime. But even something stronger than bone can break down, and that is what happens for some patients’ teeth as they age. Often the result of a combination of harmful habits like grinding teeth, having a poor diet, or not keeping up with regular visits to the dentist, teeth can become brittle and susceptible to breaking. Steps can be taken, however, to prevent brittle teeth from cracking. Here are some helpful hints. 

Watch What You Put in Your Mouth

While our teeth are made for chewing, there are some things that just shouldn’t be put in our mouths. Many people have the bad habit of chewing on pencils, pens, and various plastic items, yet doing so is not only unsanitary but also poses a risk of cracking teeth. Another bad idea is using your teeth to open packages. Find a knife or scissors and don’t chance getting a chipped or cracked tooth.

Some of the most harmful things to chew on can be among the tastiest. Hard candy, nuts, crunchy breads, and popcorn kernels should be avoided, but the biggest risk comes from chewing ice. Its hard and slippery surface is a dangerous combination that can result in cracked teeth and damaged gums. Even worse, the extreme temperature difference between the cold ice and your warm mouth can cause tooth enamel to expand and contract, making it more prone to fracturing. The cold also makes fillings expand, which shortens their lifespan.

Stop Grinding Your Teeth

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common problem that may affect up to 31 percent of people. Over time, the constant pressure severely wears down the enamel, making teeth susceptible to chipping and cracking, as well as increasing sensitivity and the risk of tooth decay and tooth loss. Grinding and clenching teeth is often the result of stress, so those with this condition are encouraged to find ways to relax and alleviate stress. Grinding also occurs while an individual is asleep, and wearing a retainer often helps reduce the effects of the condition.

Wear a Mouthguard When Playing Sports

Cracked teeth are not only the result of a bad habit. Injury and accident are also significant causes, which makes wearing a mouth guard during athletics so important. And it’s not just for contact sport athletes like boxers and football players. Basketball sees the most dental injuries, but it’s also a concern for soccer and tennis players, ice skaters and gymnasts. If there’s physical contact, a ball in play, or even a risk of falling, wearing a mouth guard is advised. It helps prevent chipped, broken, or lost teeth; soft tissue injuries like bitten gums and lips; fractured jaws; and even concussions. 

When it comes to cracked teeth, as well as many other dental injuries, the best method of prevention is strong oral hygiene. Pay attention to your diet and avoid sugary foods and beverages. Regular brushing and flossing keep teeth strong and healthy, and don’t forget to visit your dentist. Professional teeth cleaning removes the plaque and tartar that leads to tooth decay and leaving cavities and other problems untreated only stresses and weakens teeth. Whether you need a cleaning or relief from a dental injury, Ellicott Mills Dental is here for you. Call us at (410) 431-1768 to schedule an appointment!

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