La Habra and Chino Hills, CA – Did you know that the Academy of General Dentistry estimates that nail-biters will spend an extra $4,000 in their lifetime on dental and orthodontic treatment related to their habit? You might think your child’s nail-biting habit is just annoying, but it might also be costing you money. Dr. Robert Gire, whose La Habra/Chino Hills orthodontic office treats patients of all ages, explains some other habits that may require a visit to his office.
“Thumb sucking is probably the most commonly known habit,” says Dr. Gire. “Some estimates state that thumb sucking is done by approximately 80 percent of kids at some point in their childhood. While there is no need for you to attempt to break your infant of the habit, it is important to pay close attention and intervene if the habit continues for too long.”
Dr. Gire says that thumb sucking at early ages probably won’t affect your child’s teeth, but if the habit continues for too long, it can have a serious effect on the way permanent teeth come in. This is especially true if your child continues to suck his or her thumb after the age of six.
Grinding of one’s teeth is another habit that is very damaging. Tooth grinding often takes place at night while people are sleeping, and the action can have serious consequences. Not only can it cause your teeth to crack and break, the pressure can also lead them to shift, sending you to the orthodontist wondering how your bite got so bad.
Using Teeth as a Tool
Likewise, using your teeth as a tool can cause damage or even cause them to shift. How often do you use your teeth to rip something open or tear off a tag? While it might seem easier than searching for a pair of scissors, it can have lasting consequences.
Chewing on Things Other Than Food
Chewing on things other than food can also cause your teeth to chip, break, and shift. Your teeth aren’t meant to have constant pressure put on them, so try to limit your chewing to meals, snacks and the occasional piece of gum. Avoid prolonged chewing on straws, pens, pencils, and other objects that you encounter at school or at work.
“It’s not uncommon to see older patients who wonder how their bite got so bad,” says Dr. Gire. “Maybe they had braces as a teen, or maybe they had great teeth to begin with, and they are frustrated that their bite has shifted. When I discuss these habits with them, I usually see the lightbulb go off.”
If your child currently has any of these habits, encourage them to quit. Find positive ways for them to deal with stress, anxiety, or look for ways that will help them self soothe, as might be needed to help a thumb sucker. If you need help, Dr. Gire and his staff are always happy to discuss ways that you might be able to help your child overcome his or her bad habits, or for you to overcome your own.