Wednesday, July 17, 2024
HomeOral Health & HygieneDon't Treat Your Teeth Like Tools

Don’t Treat Your Teeth Like Tools

This past weekend I went shopping with my wife and got a couple of new shirts.  The tags were stuck onto the shirts with a thin plastic string.  I usually rip them off, but only the tag came off.  With no scissors nearby, I almost used my teeth to get the rest off.  Luckily, I caught myself and was able to remove the annoying plastic string without using my teeth.

Many people damage their teeth by using them inappropriately.  Here’s a few things that you should avoid doing with your teeth in order to keep them as healthy as possible:

Don’t Use Your Teeth To Open Things

Swiss Army KnifeWhether it’s a beer bottle, candy bar, or one of those waterproof FedEx envelopes – resist the urge to use your teeth to help you open it.  Your teeth were not meant to open these things!  Using your teeth on foreign objects, especially bottle caps, can crack them, chip them, or cause malocclusion (poor jaw alignment) by wearing down your teeth unevenly.  Malocclusion can eventually lead to a type of jaw pain called temporomandibular disorder (TMD, commonly known as TMJ.)

Don’t Use Your Teeth As Scissors or Wire Cutters

Like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I was tempted to use my teeth to cut a plastic tie.  While my teeth are poorly suited for this task, scissors are the perfect tool for such tasks.  I was simply too lazy to go and find a pair.

Do not Use Your Teeth as ScissorsAnother one of my bad habits is using my teeth to cut clear packing tape when the packing tape doesn’t come with a built-in cutter.  I’ve made an effort recently to find scissors when using this type of tape, but I still catch myself using my teeth occasionally.

Believe it or not, some people even use their teeth on wire.   As a kid, I often used wires, batteries, light bulbs, and small electric motors to build fun, not-very-useful contraptions.  The easiest way to remove the insulation from the copper wiring was to bite on it with my two front teeth.  I got to the point where I could do it very efficiently.  Luckily, my dad caught me doing this one day and told me I would ruin my teeth if I persisted.  He was right!  Fortunately, no permanent damage occurred and I started using wire cutters.

Don’t Use Your Teeth as a Third Hand

Try not to Use Your Teeth as a Third HandMy oral pathology teacher once showed us a picture of an elderly woman that had used her front teeth to hold pins while she was knitting and sewing.  Over time, she had worn small holes in her teeth where the pins were placed.  Every time she smiled, very small holes were visible on the bottom of her upper teeth.  A similar thing can happen when construction workers hold nails in their teeth.

Using your teeth to hold things can damage your teeth in the long run.  Also, if you had to hiccup or yawn, holding objects with your teeth  might cause you to choke.

Don’t Use Your Teeth To Chew On Foreign Objects

When I was in third grade, I noticed that lots of the cool kids were chewing on their pencils.  Being a conformist, I started chewing on my pens and pencils.  Sometimes during boring assignments, my classmates and I would compare our writing utensils to see who had inflicted the most damage with their teeth.

Similarly, many children get in the habit of biting their fingernails.  If they continue, it can damage their permanent teeth.

Although addicting, stress-relieving, and sometimes “cool”, biting on foreign objects can weaken or crack your teeth, chip them, and cause you to lose tooth structure.

Don’t Use Your Teeth as a Nut Cracker or Seafood Opener


Don’t use your teeth to crack open nuts.  As good as the nut tastes, you need to use something other than your teeth to crack the shell.  A nutcracker, perhaps?

Over time, the shell will act like sandpaper on your teeth, sanding away bits of enamel each time you open a nut.  If you do this regularly you will eventually be able to visibly see where you’ve worn away your teeth.

Using Teeth To Open Seafood
We can only hope that this boy didn’t open that shell with his teeth!

Another common misuse of teeth occurs when eating seafood.  In many places, seafood is served in the shell.  Although it may seem natural to use your teeth to remove the shell, the shells are often quite hard and could easily damage your teeth.


Teeth serve many functions.  They were designed to chew food, support our lips and cheeks structurally, and help us speak properly.  A healthy set of teeth also adds to your overall appearance and gives you an attractive smile.

If you want your teeth to function properly, you have to protect and take care of them.  As long as you use your teeth for their intended purpose, and don’t abuse them, you will be able to keep your teeth working well for a long time.




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