Two Habits that Can Ruin Your Smile

cosmetic_dentalEvery time you smile, your teeth let others know how well you take care of them. If you treat your teeth like tools, they’ll wear faster and need more restorative care. “Regular care, both at home and with a dentist, pays off—your teeth look great and they do an excellent job of helping you eat and enjoy your food,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dental office.

There are two habits that may not sound dangerous, but that can damage your teeth quickly and permanently. If you have these habits, there’s an alternative that will help you keep your smile bright without giving up too much.

1. Chewing Ice. What makes it dangerous is the shape of molars—your grinding teeth. The top of the tooth has angled edges that help you break down food as you chew. A piece of ice at the wrong angle combined with the force of biting down to chew can crack the tooth or a filling. The motion can also shear off a previously damaged tooth, particularly if it has a large filling.

Instead, do this: Your mouth is warm, and the ice will melt if you keep the ice away from your teeth. Suck on the ice instead of chewing it.

2. Drinking soft drinks. Regular soft drinks contain sugar and acids that are bad for your teeth. Diet soft drinks may not contain sugar, but they do contain acids. Colas contain phosphoric acid, clear soft drinks contain citric acid. Both etch your teeth and make them vulnerable to attack by bacteria in your mouth. The website Live Science says that the acids in soft drinks are more corrosive than battery acid. Drinking soft drinks throughout the day bathes your teeth in a liquid that attacks the enamel.

Instead, do this: Use a straw when drinking soft drinks. The liquid goes down your throat faster and doesn’t touch as much of the tooth surface. 

There are many ways to damage your teeth permanently, and most of them are preventable. You can enjoy ice and soft drinks and reduce your risk. Or, you can give up both habits and eliminate that risk entirely. Think of your smile—what does it say to others?

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