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July 2020 Newsletter Habits to Avoid During the Current Pandemic

During these uncertain times, it can be difficult to know for sure when things will get back to normal in Texas and the rest of the country. As you may already be aware, Dr. Balington and his team are not currently accepting appointments for non-essential dental services. As a result, routine checkups and cleanings cannot be performed. This means on top of practicing hygienic habits daily (i.e. hand-washing, social distancing, etc.), it is crucial to avoid bad habits that can negatively affect your oral health.

That’s why in our most recent newsletter, we want to offer advice to patients who may be finding themselves falling into bad habits that can damage their teeth and gums. If you are struggling with a dental issue or dealing with a dental emergency, please call our office directly and Dr. Balington and his team will do whatever possible to help.

Smoking and Using Tobacco

Whether you’ve had the habit for a long time or you’ve picked it back up as a result of stress during quarantine, smoking and using tobacco products is one of the most harmful habits you can inflict on your teeth and gums. It can lead to dark discolorations of enamel, gum disease, and even more severe conditions like tooth loss and oral cancer.

If you’re struggling to stop using tobacco, the best thing you can do is contact your general practitioner for advice on breaking the habit. Additionally, we recommend patients to:

  • Practice meditation.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Make time to talk with friends and family, especially if they will hold you accountable for using tobacco.
  • Find a creative outlet to keep your hands busy, such as cooking or drawing.

Snacking Frequently Throughout the Day

Eating foods high in sugar and starch may make you feel good during times of stress, but they are just as likely to cause severe damage to your gums and tooth enamel along the way. When the mouth is constantly bathed in sugar and starch, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria production. This leads to more plaque and tartar, both of which can break down enamel and increase the risk of toothaches and dental emergencies. To prevent snacking, make sure to:

  • Eat enough food per meal.
  • Spread meals throughout the day in order to avoid peaks and lows in your blood sugar.
  • Swap candy for fruits, which offer many vitamins and minerals that promote good oral health (including apples, grapes, bananas, mangos, oranges, pineapples and others!)
  • Plan meals and snacks ahead of time.
  • Avoid going cold turkey. Treating yourself every once in a while as a reward for not snacking is a great way to build incentives. Furthermore, going cold-turkey too soon might cause you to crack and overindulge.

Biting Your Nails

Biting your nails can do more than just spread germs and cause your fingers to bleed. Teeth can actually erode and even chip if you bite your nails, so it’s important to practice habits that make you less likely to do so. For example, you can:

  • Clip your fingernails short to make biting them too difficult.
  • Wear gloves (which are more sanitary and keep your nails covered.)
  • Stop biting your fingernails one finger at a time. This is a great alternative to trying to stop biting them all at once.
  • Determine the trigger for biting your nails, whether it’s work or something else. This will make it easier to cope.

Call Us If You Need Assistance!

As always, we strongly encourage all patients to practice social distancing measures as recommended by our local public health officials. On top of that, make sure to brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and floss once a day to prevent the buildup of plaque on teeth and keep the gums free of infection. If you believe you are having a dental emergency, please don’t wait to give our office a call directly. Until then, stay safe and stay inside as much you can!