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Why You Shouldn’t Allow Your Child to Use Their Teeth as Tools

added on: January 14, 2021

We’ve all used our teeth to tear open packaging that’s just too hard to open with our hands. However, your pediatric dentist in Medford wants to remind you that there are tools designed to specifically help us open pesky packages, and those tools aren’t our teeth. Both children and adults alike can damage their teeth if they’re used for anything other than chewing food. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways tooth damage occurs when we use teeth as tools. 

  • Popping Bottle Caps

For adults, there’s a popular, yet dangerous, ‘bar trick’ that involves a bottle top being popped open using nothing but teeth. Truthfully, the thought of doing that makes our teeth hurt, and actually doing it can certainly cause trouble. But adults aren’t the only ones who resort to their teeth to open bottles. Any screw top bottle can be difficult for tiny hands to open, and instead of asking for help, kids and teens tend to brace the cap between their molars, bite down, and twist. This unnatural pressure on the teeth can cause teeth to chip or break and will require treatment from your pediatric dentist in Medford to fix. 

  • Cutting or Opening Packages 

Two of the most common ways kids and adults use their teeth as tools are to use them to quickly open packages or to cut tags that, in reality, should be handled with scissors. We get it, it’s often faster to rip a tag off a new shirt or rip open that bag of chips with your teeth instead of finding a pair of scissors. However, doing so can also result in broken or chipped teeth. Additionally, cuts to the gums, lips, or other areas around the mouth can also occur. 

  • Carrying Items When You’re Out of Hands

It’s human nature to try to optimize our time by carrying as many things as possible in one trip. However, we only have so many hands and can only carry so many items at one time. The solution to this? Well, many of us turn to our mouths as another hand. Our teeth aren’t designed to grip and hold on to things, and doing so can result in damage to the teeth themselves or even your jaw. Not to mention, both kids and adults are at risk of choking or seriously injuring themselves if they fall while holding something in the mouth. When in doubt, make a few trips. 

  • Nibbling On Non-Food Items

While our teeth are designed to chew and breakdown foods, they aren’t necessarily designed to chew on everything. Things like fingernails, pens, pencils, and toys can also cause tooth damage as well as put unnecessary stress on the jaw joint. Additionally, these items can be covered in germs which, if ingested, can make us sick. 

Using teeth for anything other than what they’re designed for can be dangerous for both adults and kids, and even though kids’ teeth are only temporary, they should be cared for as if they’re permanent. Baby teeth help kids develop proper speech, chew, and help prevent the need for advanced dental care later in life. 

If your child sustains a tooth injury, we encourage you to call their Medford pediatric dentist to schedule an appointment quickly so they can get the care they need and get back to smiling in no time.