The mouth is one of the most important parts of the body. Not only does it aid in receiving and crushing food but also in proper speech and tasting. Our oral cavity is a window to the human body.  Not only is it an important part, but it also is a place where trouble can start.  Many illnesses present themselves in the mouth. In other words, the mouth can show what is going on in the body.  One example is if the patient is anemic, then the mouth has a pale appearance.  The mouth should have a normal coral pink-colored mucosa (mucous membrane).  So, in this example, the color of the mucosa is an indicator of what is going on in the body.

Now that we understand the importance of the mouth and how it can be an indicator of overall health, let’s talk about oral habits in our daily routine and daily life. ¬†There are a number of habits¬†that¬†can be detrimental to our oral health. ¬†These habits include the following:

Bad Habits


Lip biting Lips become dry and crack, teeth become crowded and wear away.
Nail biting Teeth become crowded and wear away.
Thumb Sucking Upper teeth flare out, lower teeth and lip turn inwards. Calling for an orthodontic treatment in future.
Occupational habits: holding bobby pins, nails, screws, thread between teeth Teeth get indented and loss of tooth structure.
Sipping carbonated beverages (soft drinks) Causes dissolution of tooth structure and sugars allow cavities to form rapidly.
Biting on Ice Ice causes teeth to become brittle and dehydrate, eventually leading to cracking and tooth fractures.
Using sweetened pacifier for long hours/frequent intake of candies, sugars, etc Continuous supply of sugars leads to low pH (acidic environment) in the mouth leading to dental decay.
Jaw clenching/ Grinding/ Bruxism Leads to severe tooth loss on all or some opposing teeth (attrition). In addition, severe jaw muscle pain and soreness.
Cheek Biting Leads to cheek ulceration and in severe cases a growth which can predispose to precancerous lesions.
Brushing with hard bristles Leads to hypersensitivity in teeth and loss of tooth structure near the roots (abrasion).
Brushing with immense pressure in a horizontal direction Leads to hypersensitivity in teeth and loss of tooth structure near the roots (abrasion).
Swallowing toothpaste esp. Fluoridated Toothpastes have Fluoride for anticavity effect. If swallowed it can lead to higher than required levels of Fluorine in bones and teeth leading to pathologies.
Neglecting Bad odor Bad breath could be due to a lot of causes: liver disease, lung disease, smoking, uncontrolled diabetes etc.
Tobacco chewing Is a major cause of many life threatening oral cancers.
Cigarette smoking One of the biggest factors predisposing to cancers.
Misusing tooth picks/ pencil or pen chewing Loss of tooth structure, spacing in teeth, gums recede.
Placing pain killers/medicines in mouth for long periods Analgesics are acidic, placement without swallowing can provide pain relief but can lead to chemical burns and painful ulcers in the mouth.
Neglecting growths/ ulcers/ bleeding in mouth These should be carefully diagnosed and treated to rule out any major pathology.

There are many habits, which, once incorporated into daily routine, will provide the desirable results for better oral health. Some of them include the following:

Good Habits


Brushing Regularly Brushing not only cleans the teeth but also massages the gums, promoting oral health.
Applying moderate force with a medium hardness bristle brush Light pressure is of little use and heavy force deteriorates tooth substance.
Brushing in circular and vertical fashion Cleans away the spaces between and within teeth and protects the gums and necks of teeth from injury.
Changing brush once in 3 months To promote good cleaning ability of the brush.
Using mouthwashes/ floss/ rinsing aids For even better hygiene.
Refraining from tobacco Prevention is better than cure. No tobacco…no problem.
Visiting a dentist regularly Regular checkups and review helps treat problems in the nib.
Limiting frequency of sugar intake Sugars are the food for microbial growth and hence dental decay. If sugar is consumed less frequently, microbes will have a problem sustaining.
Regular rinsing of mouth after every meal if brushing is not feasible This will wash away all the food debris still clinging on to the tooth surfaces.
Timed, lighted, musical brushes for children Keep children interested in brushing.
Fluoridated mouthwashes and toothpaste for children Makes teeth stronger and more resistant to dental decay.
Discouraging bad oral habits like digit/thumb/pencil sucking, etc. Prevents crowding of teeth and other problems.

Keeping these habits in mind can lead to better oral hygiene and, subsequently, a healthy life. Bad habits should never be encouraged. Remember, it’s your mouth, and it’s your life.

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