Your Teeth are Not Tools

Teeth are very important because they help us chew food, speak, support our lips and cheeks, etc. They can do a lot of things. Not one of them is a tool.

Hairdressers often hold bobby pins with their teeth. Fishermen cut fishing lines with their teeth. Moms tear open packages of fruit snacks with their teeth so their crying toddlers can eat them. Some wine lovers use their teeth to get the cork out of a bottle of wine, which is our personal favorite.

Most people think their teeth are strong enough to do these things (not true). Some people think teeth are made to do these hard jobs (also not true). No matter what your reason is, you shouldn’t use your teeth as tools.

Damage from Using Teeth as Tools

In most cases, a healthy tooth won’t chip or break when it’s doing normal things. How does a normal function work? While chewing and talking. All done!

Even more interesting is the fact that the teeth don’t touch when you normally chew food or talk. When you chew, food moves the teeth apart. When people talk, their teeth naturally move apart. This fact explains why teeth don’t get hurt when they are used normally.

If you use your teeth wrong, you will hurt them. We see broken and chipped teeth every day. When you use a healthy tooth for the wrong thing, it can break. Motions that twist and turn are especially bad.

Risk of Damage is Exponential for Abnormal Teeth

Teeth with cavities have less enamel and are weaker. Even a small amount of force is enough to break them. When you try to pull out a wine cork, teeth that have gum disease can shift, move, or even come loose. Using a tooth as a tool can pull out a large filling or crown, or cause the crown to fall off. If you have porcelain veneers, you can take them off with a bobby pin.

When you use your teeth as tools, you are more likely to chip, break, or move something important if you have had dental work on your front teeth. Dental work fixes damage caused by cavities or broken teeth. But teeth with fillings and crowns are never as strong as healthy teeth with their enamel still intact. Murphy’s Law says that this will happen on a Friday night, Christmas Eve, or right before you take off for Hawaii.

Repairing the Damage

So let’s say you didn’t know all of the information above and you’ve been using your teeth as tools. How does the process of repair work?

That will depend on how bad the damage is. A tooth-colored filling is all that’s needed to fix small chips in the teeth. Because porcelain can’t be fixed, a broken crown or veneer has to be replaced completely.

Some teeth get so badly hurt that they need surgery, like having the tooth taken out and replaced with a dental implant.

If you hurt your teeth by using them as tools, you should get help as soon as you can. Teeth that are already cracked are weaker and more likely to break or crack even more. Where the enamel has been chipped away, bacteria can get into the tooth and cause cavities. Early treatment is always easier and cheaper than waiting until the problem is too much to handle.

Preventing Further Damage

  • Wear a Custom Night Guard: Many of our patients have weaker teeth because they clench or grind their teeth at night. The enamel breaks or cracks because of these strong forces. This makes it easier to hurt these teeth by doing things like opening a bag of chips with your teeth, which might not seem like a big deal. Wearing a night guard stops you from grinding your teeth at night, which can weaken your enamel. This helps keep your enamel strong and intact.
  • Stop Cavities: Cavities also make teeth weaker. They break down the enamel, which is the hardest part of the body. When a cavity lets bacteria through the enamel, the enamel’s strength and integrity are no longer the same. When you bite down on a tooth with a cavity, it is very likely to chip or break. You can avoid cavities by taking good care of your teeth at home, going to the dentist and dental hygienist regularly, eating less sugar and acid, and doing whatever your dentist tells you to do. Some people have a high risk of cavities, which makes it much more likely that they will get hurt. Talk to Dr. Motiwala and his team about these things at your next visit to find out how likely you are to get cavities.
  • Prevent Gum Disease: Gum disease makes the bone around the teeth weaker. By stopping gum disease, you are helping to keep the teeth strong base. You can avoid gum disease by getting your teeth cleaned by a dentist regularly, flossing every night, and brushing twice a day. Our dental hygienists have been teaching people how to clean their teeth the right way for decades.
  • DON’T USE YOUR TEETH LIKE TOOLS!: So, this one is pretty clear. If you don’t use your teeth as tools, you can avoid the damage that comes from doing so. Put that nasty-tasting polish on your nails to keep you from biting them. Start wearing lipstick that smudges when you try to hold bobby pins. Do whatever it takes to stop using your teeth as tools. The reward is a beautiful smile that will last for the rest of your life.

Do You Have Damage from Using Your Teeth as a Tool?

Call our office right away to make an appointment to see Dr. Motiwala. He will tell you how to fix the problem you already have and how to stop it from getting worse.

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