Don’t Use Your Teeth For This!

Don’t Use Your Teeth For This!

A look at some of the bad, and potentially dangerous, habits that we sometimes use our teeth for.

A study that was carried out as part of National Smile Month has highlighted the fact that some people in the UK use their teeth for things other than eating food. Whilst some of these seem relatively natural things to do, they can be harmful for your teeth. Other habits fall more into the ‘foolish and dangerous category’!

Our Epsom patients should remember that our teeth are not solid objects like a block of marble, but are made up of a number of things which include nerves in the softer inner pulp, making them very sensitive to pain if the outer layer gets compromised.

Before we look at the many techniques the team at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic have in their portfolio to repair damaged teeth, let’s take a look at some of the worst and most common of the bad habits which can cause damage in the first place.


By far the most common misuse of our teeth is for tearing sellotape from the roll. Despite the many technological advances and general tools available, it seems that we revert to caveman like instincts when it comes to certain simple tasks. Although tearing tape in this way may see relatively harmless, the impact on the teeth are likely to cause them to chip, and if they are already weakened, possibly even break.

In a similar way to tearing sellotape, many people also admitted to opening crisp packets with their teeth which can also cause damage in the same way as above.

An extra hand and biting habits

The next most common misuse of our teeth is biting fingernails which is often a nervous habit and one that can result in damaged teeth. This is also a very bad habit if you have porcelain veneers as it can place additional strain and potentially displace them. Chewing pens and pencils can also damage teeth in a similar way.

It seems that when we have our hands full, perhaps when shopping, we are likely to hold additional items in our teeth. Doing this habitually could even cause gradual misalignment of the teeth, but certainly, using our teeth for this purpose and especially for heavier or sharp items, is asking for trouble.

Clothes tags, bottles and … zips!

Until such a time that retail outlets find a better way to attach price tags, it seems that many of us use our teeth to remove them, often biting through the plastic. This is a tough material and significant force often has to be used to achieve this. One little slip though and chips and cracks are again a likely consequence.

Probably the most dangerous and foolish habit though is opening bottles with our teeth, something that 9% of the people in the survey asked, admitted to. It can only be presumed that people do this to ‘show off’ as it must surely be obvious to anyone that there is a very real risk of breaking a tooth if you do this. You could also find yourself badly lacerated if the bottle breaks and cuts into the flesh in the oral cavity.

We are still trying to work out how and why you would use your teeth to undo a zip.. Apparently 4% of us do!!

Resolving problems with restorative dentistry

Hopefully, this survey will serve to highlight some of the damage that these habits can cause. It is obviously better to avoid these problems in the first place, but all is not lost if damage does occur, by these or any other means.

Chipped teeth are not uncommon and can also simply be the result of years of wear and tear. Providing that the enamel is not significantly damaged, tiny chips need not mean anything serious. They can however, result in sharp edges that graze the lips and cheeks, and can also spoil an otherwise attractive smile.

Depending on the result of a consultation and according to patient preference, small chips can be treated either through cosmetic bonding, or, for a stronger and long lasting solution, dental veneers.

Broken teeth can sometimes be filled using a tooth coloured filling, or where the breakage is more significant, a dental crown may be required. The good news for patients that do require a crown is that these can be produced and fitted in a single visit thanks to the in-house CEREC system that we have available at our Epsom practice.

Finally, where a breakage is very considerable, and prognosis is poor, it may be necessary to have the damaged tooth extracted. In this situation, patients may wish to consider dental implants as the best long term solution for replacing a missing tooth.

As you can see, treatments are available at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic to help you if you do suffer an accident. But of course we would much rather you played safe by avoiding the misuse of your teeth in the first place please!

If you would like to find out more about any of the treatments mentioned, or for general oral health care, please call our Epsom dental practice on 01372 720136.