Teeth are not tools

August 24, 2010

Many people have been guilty at some point of using their teeth to open a bottle or jar that’s too tight, rip open a bag of potato chips, tear a piece of plastic tape, yank a price tag from a clothing item, cut a wire, clip a fingernail and even crack a pecan.

But dentists at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (HSC) Baylor College of Dentistry say that most cases of chipped or broken teeth happen when teeth are used as tools rather than chewing instruments.

“It’s so easy to use your teeth because they are right there, and you may not want to take the time to look for a pair of scissors, a knife, wire cutters or a bottle opener,” says Dr. Charles W. Wakefield, professor and director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency Program at HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry. “Your teeth were not meant to be used like this.”

Using your teeth as a tool can have a traumatic effect. It can cause the edge of a weakened tooth to chip off and even cause poor jaw alignment by wearing down your teeth unevenly.

Dentists at the HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry recommend you keep the real tools like scissors or wire cutters on hand and use them to do the work instead of your teeth. They also warn that chewing ice — even crushed ice — should be avoided. Use your teeth for the purpose they were intended, and they will be yours for a lifetime.

— Marketing & Communications