Using Teeth as Tools

Q. I can’t seem to get my children to stop using their teeth to open things like soda cans and bottles. How do I get them to understand that this can cause serious damage?

A. Parents and children often do not recognize the dangers of using their teeth to open things. Last week, a patient came in my office with a good-sized chip in the corner of her front tooth. I asked her how it happened, and she told me that she was getting ready to paint her fingernails and couldn’t get the bottle of polish open. So she used her teeth as a set of pliers to grip the top while she turned the bottle with her hand. You may think her decision was unwise, but it’s likely that you have done something similar with your teeth and gotten away with it. Tooth restoration is not a problem; a dentist can restore a tooth so well that you can never tell that anything actually happened. But the best restorations dentists can do are never as good as the teeth God gave you. Over the years, restorations will need to be maintained, and eventually, replaced. One of my mantras is “don’t use your teeth as tools,” meaning, don’t use your teeth for anything other than chewing and smiling. We live in a fast-paced society, and time is precious. It’s just too simple to use our teeth as pliers, scissors and holders when we run out of hands. Truth is, you may get away with it. But when your broken tooth is relegated to a life with a restoration, regret may set in over your momentary lapse in judgment. Tell your kids: “Don’t use your teeth as tools!”

Mark D. Mcomie, D.M.D.

Mcomie Family Dentistry

5999 Shallowford road

Chattanooga, TN 37421

(423) 899-1112