9 Things to Avoid Putting in Your Mouth

If you’ve ever used your mouth or lips to hold small objects when your hands are occupied, you’re not alone. But dentists advise people to drop this bad habit. Review this list of nine things to avoid putting in your mouth.

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About 20 to 30 percent of Americans bite their fingernails. For some people, it’s a nervous habit. Others say it’s a convenient way to fix an uneven nail. In either case, nail biting is an unsanitary habit because dirt and germs may be lurking under the edges of the nail. It also can flatten tooth edges or crack the enamel.

Hard candy

Chewing or sucking on hard candies can damage your oral health. Candy is loaded with sugars that cling to tooth surfaces and can lead to tooth decay. And chewing on hard candies can crack tooth enamel and cut gum tissue, creating a sore that can lead to an infection.


Smoking cigarettes and tobacco products can stain teeth and cause bad breath. They also increase the risk of developing gum disease and oral cancer.


When your hands are full of shopping bags, it’s tempting to hold the car key or fob between your lips, but don’t. Car keys are loaded with germs and bacteria that can make you sick. And if you accidentally bite down on the key, you could crack a tooth.

Pencil or pen

When working on a writing project or taking notes, it’s tempting to put the pencil or pen in your mouth and gnaw on the top while thinking. But dentists say it’s easy to ingest particles and germs that could make you sick.

Lemons or limes

Adding a slice of lemon or lime to a beverage can enhance the flavor but avoid sucking on them. The acid in citrus can harm tooth enamel. After eating acidic fruits, swish water in your mouth to dilute the acid. And because it softens enamel, wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.


Chewing ice cubes or chips is a popular habit that dentists encourage people to avoid. Crunching ice can wear or crack tooth enamel. Instead, sip on an icy-cold drink through a straw to avoid the temptation to munch on the ice.

Lids and bottle tops

When you can’t open a bottle or container, it’s tempting to try to nudge it open with your teeth. But, it’s also an easy way to crack or break a tooth. Instead, use a bottle opener or ask someone with a strong grip to open the lid.


When you pull a ticket from a parking kiosk or purchase tickets for a show, do you ever hold them in your mouth while doing something else? It’s a common habit, but one that’s unsafe. Tickets can contain germs and are printed on paper loaded with chemicals that are bad for your mouth.


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