handsome-man-smiling_~k12818475It’s common knowledge that consuming too many sugar-laden foods can damage your teeth.  However, you may be surprised to learn that these habits could be negatively affecting your oral health:

1.  Chewing on ice:  It’s natural and sugar free, so people might think ice is harmless.  But munching on hard, frozen cubes can chip or even crack teeth.  And if mindless chomping irritates the soft tissue inside a tooth, regular toothaches may follow.  Hot foods and cold foods may trigger quick, sharp jabs of pain or a lingering toothache.  Next time you get the urge for ice, chew some sugarless gum instead.

2.  Drinking coffeeCoffee’s dark color and acidity can cause yellowing of teeth over time.  Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest stains to treat with various whitening methods. Click here to learn more about the whitening treatments we offer.

3.  Bedtime bottles:  It’s never too early to protect teeth.  Giving a baby a bedtime bottle of juice, milk, or formula, can put new teeth on a path to decay.  The baby may become used to falling asleep with the bottle in his or her mouth, bathing the teeth in sugars overnight.  It’s best to keep bottles out of the crib.

4.  Tongue piercings:  Tongue piercings may be trendy, but biting down on the metal stud can crack a tooth.  Lip piercings pose a similar risk.  And when metal rubs against the gums, it can cause gum damage that may lead to tooth loss.  The mouth is also a haven for bacteria, so piercings raise the risk of infections and sores.  Bottom line, discuss the health risks with your dentist first.

5.  Grinding teeth:  Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can wear teeth down over time.  It is most often caused by stress and sleeping habits.
This makes it hard to control.  Avoiding hard foods during the day can reduce pain and damage from this habit.  Wearing a mouth guard at night can prevent the damage caused by grinding while sleeping.

6.  Cough drops:  Just because cough crops are sold in the medicine aisle doesn’t mean they’re healthy.  Most are loaded with sugar.  So after soothing a throat with a lozenge, be sure to brush well.  Whether the sugar comes from a cough drop or a hard candy, it reacts with the sticky plaque that coats teeth.  Then bacteria in the plaque convert the sugar into an acid that eats away at tooth enamel.  Hello, cavities.

7.  Opening stuff with teeth:  prettysmileOpening bottle caps or plastic packaging with teeth may be convenient, but this is one habit that makes dentists cringe.  Using teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip.  Instead, keep scissors and bottle openers handy.  Bottom line, teeth should only be used for eating.

8.  Potato chips:  The bacteria in plaque will also break down starchy foods into acid.  This acid can attack the teeth for the next 20 minutes, even longer if the food is stuck between the teeth or people snack often.  You may want to floss after eating potato chips or other starchy foods that tend to get stuck in the teeth.

9.  Constant snacking:  Snacking produces less saliva than a meal, leaving food bits in teeth for hours longer.  Avoid snacking too frequently and stick to snacks that are low in sugar and starch, for example, carrot sticks.

10.  Chewing on pencils:  Like crunching on ice, this habit can cause teeth to chip or crack.  Sugarless gum is a better option when they feel the need to chew.  It will trigger the flow of saliva, which can make teeth stronger and protect against enamel-eating acids.

11.  Playing sports with no mouth guard:  Whether you play football, hockey, or any other contact sport, don’t get in the game without a mouth guard.  This is a piece of molded plastic that protects the upper row of teeth.  Without it, teeth could get chipped or even knocked out when the action gets rough.  Self-fitting mouth guards may be purchased at a store, or have one custom made by a dentist.

12.  Drinking red wine:  The acids in wine eat away at tooth enamel, creating rough spots that make teeth more vulnerable to staining.  Red wine also contains a deep pigment called chromogen and tannins, which help the color stick to the teeth.  This combination makes it easy for the wine’s red color to stay with a person long after their glass is empty.

13.  Drinking white wine:  People might think that sticking to white wine would spare their teeth.  But the acids still weaken the enamel, leaving the teeth porous and vulnerable to staining from other beverages, such as coffee.  Swishing with water after drinking or using toothpaste with a mild whitening agent can fight the staining effects of red and white wines.

14.  Binge Eating:  Binge eating often involves excessive amounts of sweets, which can lead to tooth decay.  Binging and purging (bulimia nervosa) can do even more damage to dental health.  The strong acids found in vomit can erode teeth, making them brittle and weak.  These acids also cause bad breath.  Bulimia can lead to a variety of serious health problems, so people should be sure to talk to a doctor if they have been purging.