Bad Habits to Avoid When Wearing Braces

Although the purpose of having braces is to correct crooked or misaligned teeth, ensuring that they work properly requires significant effort on the part of the patient. Failing to follow the instructions of your orthodontist can prevent braces from being as effective, leaving the patient with less than satisfactory results. A major contributor to this is engaging in bad habits that are known to damage teeth and orthodontic devices. Here are some bad habits you should avoid when wearing braces.

Chewing Objects that are Not Food

Chewing on non-food objects, such as pens, pencils and bottle tops, is a common habit that often stems from stress. Aside from reducing the effectiveness of braces, this may also cause the braces to slide off or break. This can result in expensive repairs or replacements. It’s important to resist the urge to chew on objects. If you have trouble with this, wearing a retainer and reducing the way you react to stress may help discourage the practice.


Many people develop the habit of sucking their thumbs as toddlers, and some maintain the habit well into childhood or adolescence. This has been shown to promote misalignment of the teeth, making braces necessary. Unfortunately, some children continue sucking their thumbs even after getting braces, making them less effective. To help stop this bad habit, try covering the thumbs with a bitter-tasting liquid or wrapping the thumbs in cloth.


Biting your nails is just as bad for your teeth and braces as chewing on pens or the tops of water bottles. Bits of nail can break off and become lodged between teeth and in brackets. In addition, the act of biting your nails may exert enough pressure on brackets or wires to snap them off. Keeping nails short or painted can often help to discourage nail-biting.

Brushing Too Hard or Too Vigorously

It’s easy to think that the harder or more vigorously you brush your teeth, the cleaner they will get. However, this is not the case. Over brushing damages the delicate tissue of your gums, resulting in bleeding and soreness and eventually causing them to recede. Furthermore, excessive scrubbing wears enamel off of your teeth, leaving them more vulnerable to cavities and decay. To make matters worse, bad brushing habits like these can damage the fragile material of your braces or cause brackets to come off.

Chomping on Foods

Chewing too enthusiastically on foods is a surefire way to crack, weaken or otherwise damage the teeth. When you have braces, chomping down too hard on foods can also cause damage. While eating, it’s important to chew slowly and carefully for both your comfort and the safety of your teeth and braces.

At Grace and Bowman Orthodontics, we specialize in advanced dental care for the whole family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.