DID YOU KNOW THAT the hardest substance in our bodies is tooth enamel? Just because our teeth are very strong doesn't mean they can't be damaged. From allowing us to chew our food, to helping us speak clearly, to giving us our smiles, teeth have incredibly important uses. But one thing is for sure: they should not be used as tools! As your local South San Francisco dentists, we hear the same stories from patients who end up in the office to get a mistake fixed. We can create serious damage to our teeth when we use them in these ways:
Teeth Do Not Make Good Scissors or Nail Clippers
The damaging effect of nail-biting deserves its own blog post, but it all goes back to the topic of proper and improper uses for teeth. Germs love to grow underneath your fingernails and when you bite your nails, you are essentially transferring those germs to your mouth. Nail-biting also causes wear and tear to your front teeth, and can even potentially shift them out of place!
The other bad habit? Using your teeth to open or cut things. We've all been tempted to open a bag or rip a piece of tape with our mouth. The sawing motion damages the surface of the teeth by creating a lot of grinding. Some people even use their teeth on materials like wire, which can cause notches to be worn into them. Spare your teeth and grab scissors or pliers instead!
Teeth Are for Chewing Nuts, Not Cracking Them
For those who love pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, or even the half-popped kernels at the bottom of the popcorn bag, please 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. Take it from us: it’s much safer and healthier to use your hands or a nutcracker.
Teeth Are Not Good for Opening Bottles
In a pinch, it may be tempting to open a bottle with your teeth, but don't do it! Trying to open bottles made of plastic, glass, or anything is risky business. Not only could you damage your tooth enamel but you increase the chances of chips and cracks too. If this damage creates minor cracks, these can be the perfect place for bacteria to form and cause a risk for decay. Additionally, chipping a tooth could result in a nasty gash on your lip or gum, not to mention the bottle material could injure other areas of your mouth as well. All in all, we as dental professionals urge you to use an actual bottle opener.
Don’t Use Teeth as a Third Hand
Convenience can be a tempting reason to use our teeth as a tool. If we are in the middle of a task and need to briefly hold a pen, some nails, or some sewing pins, our mouth may seem like a convenient holding place. But the added convenience isn’t worth the risks. Should you be hit with a sudden yawn, hiccup, sneeze, or cough, or even tripping over something, this seemingly small decision could end in disaster.
Even without anything that dramatic, using your mouth to hold 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. Please use the pincushion instead!
Use Your Teeth for Their Intended Purposes
We significantly reduce the risk of needing a emergency dental visit by using our teeth for chewing and speaking, not opening bottles, holding a pen, or cracking nuts. Considering fracturing and cracks are the third-highest cause of tooth loss, we hope this motivates you to use your teeth wisely and carefully. Also make sure to brush twice a day, floss daily, and schedule your regular dental checkups! If it's been more than six months since your last check-up and cleaning or you've been putting off completing your treatment plan, book your next visit online or give us a call or text at (650) 871-1400.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.