Common Everyday Habits that Can Harm Your Teeth

habits and teeth

Are some of your common everyday daily habits harming your teeth? Our teeth are one of the most important parts of our body and if they are damaged, the associated pain and potential loss not only affects your smile and your confidence, but the perception others have of you. Tooth loss can also cause headaches, misalignment, ability to chew and can alter your daily life. If you want a healthy smile, learn how to protect your teeth so they will last for the rest of your life.

Everyday Habits and Teeth Health

Consider the following everyday habits and teeth health when you find yourself engaging in any of these following habits:

Chewing on Ice

Chewing on ice may seem harmless, but you are risking the health of your teeth when you do. Tooth enamel is among the hardest substances in our bodies, but teeth are not meant to chew on anything other than food. Don’t risk tooth fractures that can damage or completely break your teeth.  Consider drinking chilled beverages without ice, or use a straw so you’re not tempted to crunch on the cubes!

Use of Toothpicks

Toothpicks are not recommended for several reasons. They can cause gum lacerations, scratch your tooth enamel and damage tooth roots. They can also chip your crowns or veneers, splinter and cause infection, and believe it or not, there are about 9000 choking incidents reported each year from someone either swallowing or inhaling a toothpick. If you have large spaces where food often gets caught, you should talk to your dentist about ways to close the gaps. Dental floss can remove food particles from between your teeth without causing any damage to your teeth or gums.

Consuming Sugary Beverages

Sugary foods and beverages can damage the enamel, weaken your teeth and cause cavities. Sugary drinks can also affect the gums and cause gingivitis, but sugar is not the only culprit. The acids in regular and diet sodas, energy drinks and fruit juice can spell trouble for your smile. If you drink a carbonated beverage on occasion, use a straw to limit acid exposure. Milk or water are still the best choice of beverages and both of them will actually strengthen your teeth.

Acidic Foods

Grapefruits, lemons, limes and oranges are good for you, but the acid in these fruits can erode the enamel on your teeth. Try eating any acidic foods alongside foods that have a higher pH level, and are lower in acidity. Some of these foods include nuts, cheese, oatmeal, mangos, melons, bananas, apples, eggs, vegetables, brown rice and whole grains. Fish and lean meats also have low levels of acid.

Constant Snacking

Grazing all day, especially on crackers, chips or sugary foods and drinks, puts you at a higher risk for cavities. Cavity-causing bacteria feast on leftover food, producing an acid that attacks the outer layer of your teeth. Eat balanced meals to feel satiated, but if you need a snack, make sure it’s low in fat and sugar. If you indulge in a sugary treat once in a while, drink a big glass of water to rinse out your mouth afterward.  Potato chips are an especially destructive snack, because they get lodged in between teeth and little morsels stick in the gums, which can lead to gum damage.

Not Brushing and Flossing Your Teeth on a Regular Basis

Brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing once a day are some of the best habits you can get into. If you are not brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, you risk the chances of tooth decay and tooth loss. 

Brushing Too Hard

When you brush your teeth, make sure you’re not brushing too hard. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush in a gentle way so you don’t harm your teeth or do damage to your gums.

Using Your Teeth as a Tool

Your teeth were made for eating, not to substitute as a pair of scissors. Using your teeth in this way puts you at a higher risk of cracking your teeth, injuring your jaw or accidentally swallowing something. It will only take a minute to find the proper tool to open that package and your teeth will thank you for it.


Tobacco can be very harmful to your teeth. Tobacco use increases the risk of developing plaque and tartar, gum disease, and it is a leading cause of bone loss and tooth loss. There is a lower success rate of dental implant procedures for tobacco users, and an increased risk of developing oral cancer. If these consequences aren’t a deterrent to avoid tobacco, maybe bad breath and tooth discoloration will convince one to quit the habit. 

Nail Biting

This nervous habit can chip teeth and impact your jaw. Regularly biting your nails can also damage your tooth enamel, or cause misalignment. The germs under your fingernails can also potentially infect your gums. Even if you wash your hands frequently, it’s difficult to get all the germs and dirt from under your nails. Imagine what you’re exposing your body to whenever you give these germs and dirt that kind of access to your mouth.

The Worst Dental Habit

The single worst dental habit of all comes as no surprise. You put your teeth and gums at risk when you neglect regular dental check-ups. It’s impossible to avoid regular wear and tear of the teeth, but with regular brushing and flossing, a healthy diet, and avoiding the bad habits that overtly cause tooth damage, you can expect your teeth to last a lifetime, with help.

Dr. Ashley Niles, of Niles Family Dentistry is the best source of help for your oral health. Dr. Niles can take care of the whole family, and is proficient in General Dentistry, Diagnostic, Preventative, Restorative and Cosmetic Dentistry.

Niles Family Dentistry is located in Niwot, Colorado at 136 2nd Ave., Suite 101, also serving patients in Boulder, Longmont and other areas of northern Colorado.

Kick the bad habits that can cause damage to your teeth, and above all call 720-744-0001to make an appointment with Dr. Niles and get yourself on the path to a healthy smile.

Ashley Niles

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