Could you be damaging your teeth without knowing it?

Could you be damaging your teeth without knowing it?  We all have habits that may be wrecking our teeth on a daily basis.  Here are a few of the most common ones:

Chewing on ice

photo of ice

Ice chewers beware.  I’ve seen this habit ruin even the most perfect teeth in our dental office.  Chewing on hard, frozen ice can chip and even crack you teeth resulting in worn down and broken front teeth and fractured back teeth.  Generally the only treatment to fix a broken or fractured tooth is with a crown.  If a fracture from ice chewing is too deep the tooth my not be able to be fixed.  Next time you need something to chew on, try sugarless gum instead.

Playing sports without a mouth guard

Think twice about playing any type of contact sport without a mouth guard.  This piece of molded plastic will protect your upper teeth.  Without a mouth guard your teeth can get chipped, cracked or even knocked out when a game gets rough.  If you feel it may be too expensive to purchase a mouth guard, think of the cost of replacing a front tooth.  Mouth guards can be custom made by your dentist or a self-fitting mouth guard can be purchased at most stores.

Bed time bottles

The habit of giving your baby a bottle at night to help them sleep is a big no no. Bottles containing juice, milk, and formula will soak your child’s teeth in sugars, causing tooth decay. It’s best to keep bottles out of the crib and keep your child on the right path to healthy teeth.

Tongue piercing

It may seem cool to get your tongue pierced but it can cause major problems to your teeth.  Biting down on your tongue ring can quickly crack a tooth.  The metal stud also has a tendency to rub against the gum tissue causing damage to the gums, gum recession and even tooth loss.

Sucking on cough drops

Cough drops may make that sore throat feel better but are usually full of sugar that can lead to tooth decay.  Check the packaging label to find a brand that has less sugar or go for a sugar free brand.

photo of cough drop

Drinking soda or sports drinks

Sipping on soda and sports drinks during the day can cause major damage to your teeth.  The sugar and acids in these beverages eat away at tooth enamel causing enamel wear and tooth decay.  Unfortunately even diet sodas are not a safe way to go.  Diet drinks can contain even more tooth damaging acids then the sugared ones.  The best way to stay hydrated and keep that healthy smile is to stick with good old fashion water.

Drinking coffee

IMG_0249Oh how I love my morning coffee.  Unfortunately, the major problem with coffee is that it can stain your teeth.  Coffee’s dark color and acidity can cause yellowing of the teeth over time. Thank goodness the stains are fairly easy to treat!  Surface stains can be removed during a dental cleaning and deep tooth stains can be best treated with a professional dental whitening system or an over the counter whitening product.

Grinding teeth

Many of us may not even realized that we are clenching and grinding our teeth because it usually happens during sleep.  Stress and sleeping habits are the biggest culprits.  Both front and back teeth can become worn down, chipped or broken over time with night time grinding.  The best treatment is a night guard to protect teeth during sleep.  If you think you are clenching and grinding, It is best to discuss this with your dentist so that he or she can recommend the type of night guard that best fits your needs.


Cigarette smoking is not only bad for overall health, but it is extremely bad for your oral health.  Smoking stains your teeth and is a major contributor to gum disease and tooth loss.  When you smoke your mouth becomes dry and constricts blood vessels which decreases blood flow to your teeth and gums.  As a dental hygienist I see the effects of smoking related gum disease on a daily basis. Smoking can also cause an increased risk of cancer of the mouth, lips and tongue.

Using your teeth as tools

photo of fingernailI think we are all guilty of using our teeth as tools.  Whether it’s opening a plastic packaging container, opening bottle caps (yikes!) or using your teeth as a fingernail clipper.  Using your teeth as tools can easily cause them to crack and chip.  Best bet for healthy teeth…use them for eating.