Despite how often we use our teeth for things like smiling, talking, and eating, it’s surprising that people pickup so many bad habits that harm the health of their teeth. While some of these bad habits are done without realizing the potential harm they can cause, others are the result of people being just a little careless with their oral health.

At Harmony Dental, Dr. da Costa wants all of his patients to enjoy a lifetime of quality oral health. This means patients need to do more than just brush and floss daily, they must also make an effort to break habits that harm the health of their teeth. With this in mind, here are seven bad habits many of us need to make a conscious effort to break.

Chewing on Ice

While it’s easy to think of ice as nothing more than frozen water (because it is), chewing on hard, frozen cubes can cause your teeth to chip or even crack. If chewing on ice causes the soft tissue inside a tooth to become irritated, what seemed to be a harmless habit could lead to regular toothaches. Besides ice, hot and cold foods may trigger quick, sharp shots of pain or a toothache that lingers. Next time you feel like chewing on a little ice, just pour yourself a cold glass of water and grab a stick of sugarless gum instead.

Bedtime Snack

It’s never too early to start protecting the health of your child’s teeth. Putting a baby to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or formula, can lead to the development of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (also known as dental carries). If your baby falls asleep with the bottle in his or her mouth, the sugar that liquid contains covers their teeth, providing plaque with plenty of fuel to damage your child’s teeth.

Tongue Piercings

While a tongue piercing can certainly serve as a trendy fashion statement, biting down on the hard metal stud that protrudes through your tongue can crack a tooth. A lip piercing can also cause similar damage to occur. Additionally, whenever a metal piercing rubs against your gums, it can cause damage that may lead to tooth loss. Your mouth is also full of bacteria, which means that having a piercing in or near the mouth increases your risk of developing an infection or sores.

Teeth Grinding

Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding can wear down the health of your teeth over time. Most often caused by stress and poor sleeping habits, teeth grinding can be hard to control. However, wearing a mouth guard at night does prevent grinding while sleeping. If you grind your teeth, talk with Dr. da Costa about what treatment options might be right for you.

Bottle Opener

Okay, you might not use your teeth to open any bottles, but opening any type of packaging with your teeth can cause them to crack or chip. Just make sure to keep a pair of scissors or a bottle opener around, and save your teeth for eating.

Smoking

In terms of your health, few things can make a more positive impact than quitting smoking. Besides the risk of developing cancer and emphysema, smoking can also stain your teeth and cause them to fall out due to gum disease. And before you start thinking that using smokeless tobacco gets you off the hook, the use of any tobacco product can cause cancer of the lips, mouth, and tongue.

Sugary Drinks

Whether you’re drinking soda, sports drinks, or fruit juice, liquids that contain high levels of sugar provide the plaque in your mouth with plenty of fuel to cause permanent long-term damage to your teeth. Each time you consume sugar, plaque produces an acid that eats way at your teeth enamel for at least 20 minutes at a time. If you don’t brush after each can of soda or sport drink bottle you consume, you provide plaque the opportunity to go to work on your teeth. So instead of cracking open another can, consider drinking a glass of water instead.