Dental Tribune Europe

From opening bottles to tearing Sellotape—Study reveals hazardous uses of teeth

By Dental Tribune International
June 12, 2019

RUGBY, UK/AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: According to the findings of a new study, most people do not just use their teeth for eating. The research by the Oral Health Foundation and Philips, as part of National Smile Month, found that 65 per cent of respondents frequently put their oral health at risk by using their teeth as a multi-tool.

The most common misuse of teeth is tearing Sellotape—more than four in ten admitted doing this regularly. More than a quarter bite their nails, and over a fifth use their teeth to carry things when their hands are full. Other popular uses include taking tags out of clothing (20 per cent), chewing pens and pencils (16 per cent), opening bottles (9 per cent) and doing up zips (4 per cent).

Commenting on the findings, Dr Nigel Carter, OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said that, while it may seem trivial, using our teeth as tools poses a considerable risk to our oral health. Carter said: “Anything from opening bottles to chewing foreign objects can damage existing dental work or cause our teeth to crack. There are also examples of teeth shifting out of place, chipping, and in some cases breaking, due to the pressure and strain. Accidents are also more likely to happen which could result in invasive and expensive emergency dental work.”

“We should stick to using our teeth for what they were designed to do—chewing our food so that it’s more easily digestible. Our teeth also help us to talk and make sounds. They also give our face its shape. Because of this, we shouldn’t be doing anything that could unnecessarily jeopardise them,” he concluded.

More than four in five 18- to 35-year-olds in the study admitted to abusing their teeth by performing unusual tasks with them. This is significantly higher than the 70 per cent of 35- to 54-year-olds and the 54 per cent of over-55s who made this admission.

The results are part of National Smile Month, a UK-wide health campaign that promotes the benefits of a healthy smile.

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