Why Your Child Shouldn’t Use Their Teeth as Tools

Why Your Child Shouldn’t Use Their Teeth as Tools

It’s tempting to use our teeth as tools. However, using your teeth to tear tape, crack nuts, or do anything other than eat food is a quick way to fracture teeth. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help your child form good oral health habits that will last a lifetime. This means speaking up if you see your child using their teeth for anything other than eating. For more tips on how to help your child maintain a healthy smile, ask your pediatric dentist.

Crack Nuts, Un-Popped Kernels, or Ice

Teeth aren’t strong enough to crack nuts without damaging your child’s smile. If your child likes to snack on nuts, make sure that they aren’t using their teeth to break through the hard shells. Un-popped kernels at the bottom of the popcorn bag are also tough enough to crack or chip teeth. Likewise, chewing ice can increase your child’s risk for a chipped tooth.

As a parent, the last thing you want is to schedule chipped tooth repair or other emergency dental care for something that could have been prevented. That’s why it’s important to intervene as soon as you see your child use their teeth as tools. Otherwise, you may have to call their emergency pediatric dentist to repair a chipped or cracked tooth.

Use Teeth as an Extra Set of Hands

When your child has their hands full, they may be tempted to carry something in their mouth. For example, your teenage daughter might be tempted to hold her purse strap by her teeth while carrying groceries.

Not only is it unhygienic to use teeth to hold things, but it also increases your child’s risk for injury. If that same daughter were to trip, the purse strap could exert enough pressure to fracture or knock out teeth. If you see your child using their teeth as tools, speak up before they need an emergency dentist.

Open Things

Most glass bottles contain adult beverages. However, some brands offer pop or fruit juice in glass bottles. If this is the case, you’ll want to make sure your child doesn’t open bottles with their teeth. The metal caps can scrape tooth enamel, increasing your child’s risk for tooth decay. Over time, your child’s teeth will weaken from being used to open things.

If you think a paper cut on your finger is painful, just imagine slicing your gums. Don’t let your child use their teeth to open envelopes, bags, or similar items. Opening things with their teeth also increases their risk of accidently swallowing pieces of plastic.

If you see your child using their teeth as tools, the best thing to do is speak up. Taking the time to talk with your child is much better than trying to schedule urgent dental care because your child cracked a tooth on an un-popped kernel. It’s also much less traumatic for your child to avoid a broken tooth altogether, rather than needing a dental crown, veneers, or other type of restorative dentistry. If you have any questions about your child’s oral health, don’t hesitate to ask their pediatric dentist.


Dr. Kingma DDS and his team are dedicated to helping your child form healthy oral habits that will last a lifetime. To schedule an appointment with our Grand Rapids pediatric dentist, call Kingma Pediatric Dentistry at (616) 942-9840.