Using Your Teeth As A Tool

Pop quiz: What is the purpose of teeth?

A) To eat and chew. B) To look nice when one smiles. C) To open things like a tool. D) To support the lips and cheeks. Those who answered "C" have flunked the pop quiz. Yes, while teeth can "technically" be used to open packages, remove tags and even hold certain items, prolonged use of the teeth in this tool-like manner is sure to result in damage. And why make an additional trip to the dentist office aside from the recommended twice a year for a professional teeth cleaning?

Here's an overview on some of the big no-no's when it comes to using teeth:

Don't use them to open things. Beer bottles, candy wrappers, envelopes — when it comes to opening these items, don't use the teeth. Not only can the teeth crack or chip from hard objects such as bottle caps, but this behavior can also lead to accelerated tooth wear, poor jaw alignment and jaw pain.

Don't use them as scissors. When it comes to clothing tags, packaging tape and even wires, the best tool for the job is either a pair of scissors or wire cutters. Never use teeth!

Don't use them to carry things. There are likely times when one's hands are full of more items than can be carried, so naturally, you might carry some items with your teeth. A common example of this is construction workers who hold nails in their teeth as they work. Using the teeth as a "third hand" is not a good habit to get into, not only because it can lead to increased tooth wear, but because if you were to sneeze or hiccup while something was in your mouth, you could actually choke on it.

Don't use them to chew on things (other than food). Fingernails and pencils are two common foreign objects that people often gnaw on with their teeth, usually out of bad habit or stress. But this is a habit people should work to crack immediately. Prolonged chewing on nonfood items comes with a greater chance of chips or cracks and can also lead to a loss in tooth structure.

When it comes to the teeth, it's not just important to brush, floss and see a dentist per the recommended cleaning frequency, but also to avoid using them in a manner that can cause harm. For more information on what to avoid using your teeth on – contact Great Lakes Dental