You know to brush your teeth and floss every day, and you visit the dentist twice annually for an exam and routine cleaning. Yet despite your commitment to good oral health, you could also be counteracting your efforts with bad habits. In fact, many of the things you may be doing without a second thought are also among the most harmful for your teeth. Kicking these habits could mean saving your teeth from damage, decay and discoloration.

Chewing Ice

Whether you do it to combat stress or think of it as a calorie-free snack, chewing ice may seem like a harmless habit. Frequently biting down on ice, however, slowly wears down the enamel, increasing the risk of chipping or cracking your teeth. Over time, this can lead to a weakening of the teeth and increased tooth sensitivity. In addition, the sharp edges on ice chips pose a risk to your gums too, as they can cut or puncture the soft tissues of the mouth. Even if you are not an ice-chewer, avoid biting down on other hard surfaces too, such as pens, pencils, fingernails and hard candies.

Not Drinking Enough Water

Experts warn to drink plenty of water every day – approximately half your weight in ounces. Not only is water important for supporting the body’s organs and systems, but it also plays an important role in oral health. When you do not drink enough water, saliva production is diminished and the mouth becomes dryer. Since saliva aids in digestion and preventing the build-up of bacteria in the mouth, poor hydration can increase the risk of tooth decay.

Brushing Too Hard

It may seem counterintuitive, but there is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’. Brushing is perhaps the most important thing you can do to protect your teeth, but brushing too hard or with the wrong toothbrush can cause abrasions to the enamel and gums. Over time, vigorous brushing can wear down the surface of the teeth and cause the gums to recede.

Clenching (Bruxism)

Chronic clenching or teeth grinding can wear down the teeth, causing fractures, erosion or even tooth loss. Approximately 30 to 40 million people in the U.S. are guilty of clenching or grinding their teeth from time to time – some of them on a chronic basis. Also known as bruxism, this habit is usually performed subconsciously and often occurs at night when sleeping. For some

people, stress management techniques can help reduce clenching, while others require a mouth guard to prevent damage to the teeth.

Using Tobacco Products

Tobacco products are known carcinogens and dangerous for your overall health – including your teeth and gums. Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss and an increased risk of developing oral cancer. Not to mention, smoking makes the teeth look yellow and causes bad breath.

For more information about daily habits that could be putting your oral health at risk, contact us at Lane Avenue Family Dentistry to schedule a consultation. We can help you uncover all the ways you could be damaging your teeth and gums and put you on the path to good oral health.