We know unhealthy habits are hard to break and good habits are even harder to make. But, there are some habits that fly under the radar going undetected as good or bad. If you want to have a healthy smile that endures beautifully, here are the top habits that should be heeded to prevent emergency dental care.

Chew Wisely

Unless you want to be a frequent flier at your dental clinic to repair chips and cracks, we urge you to stop chewing on ice. This habit can irritate your gums and trigger a toothache or headache. The cold alone is enough to cause a toothache but add in the force required to break up frozen cubes, and you could be sorry! If you must chew on something, chew smarter to avoid having to search “emergency dentist near me.” This means keeping pencils, pens and errant fingernails out of your mouth and choosing sugar-free gum instead.

Put Your Guard Up

We’re all for healthy boundaries to stay safe, but who knew that you would need to put your guard up when it comes to your teeth? If you play high contact sports like hockey or football, doing so without a mouth guard is asking for trouble. While your family dentist can help with tooth bonding to fix chipped or broken teeth, or provide partial dentures to replace a whole row, a custom mouth guard to shield your teeth from getting knocked out is a simple preventative fix.

A Hole In One?

Body piercing has been a worldwide practice since 1500 B.C., so it is no surprise it is still in fashion. However, some areas are safer to pierce than others. Piercing in the lip, tongue or cheek area can leave patients vulnerable to bleeding, bacterial infections, abraded gums or sores. Cracking a tooth due to accidentally biting into a tongue piercing is a real risk. Tongue piercing also has the potential for tooth loss due to gums being damaged by metal lip piercings constant abrading the gums.

Skip the Bottle

It may seem that the fastest way to put your baby down for slumber is with a nice bottle of their favorite beverage, but this short-term fix is far from innocent. However, anything other than water can lead to a phenomenon called bottle rot. Bottle rot refers to cavities and decay, which occur when sugars from formula, milk or juice cause bacteria to flourish and adhere to teeth, breaking down and destroying enamel.

Escape the Grind

A night guard is the best stopgap to overcome bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding. If you have noticeable wear on your teeth, headaches and facial pain, this could be due to stress causing you to gnash your teeth while you sleep. Avoid foods that require added effort to chew, try stress management techniques and wear your dental guard every night to protect your teeth from chips and cracks as well.

The Master of Disguise

Sugar comes from many hidden sources. For example, unless you choose sugar-free cough drops, you are fooling yourself if you think they are anything other than medicated candy. This one is an easy fix with a variety of sugar-free throat soothing options available. Hard or gummy candy, cookies, cakes and sugar-laden coffee drinks, sodas, sports drinks or fruit juices all contain high doses of sugar. Sugar, from whatever form, triggers a chain reaction wherein naturally-present bacteria in plaque convert the sugar into enamel-eating acid, leading to tooth decay and cavities. The acid can attack the teeth for about 20 minutes after consuming, with gummy candies and toffees tending to stick to your teeth longer, leaving your teeth more vulnerable. Citric and phosphoric acids in soda, plus acidic artificial sweeteners in diet sodas, further destroy tooth enamel.

When snacking, you think corn or potato chips are a better choice than sweets when it comes to your teeth, right? Think again! All starchy foods get broken down into acid by the bacteria in plaque.

Tips To Avoid Dietary Sugar Pitfalls:
  • Try sugar-free waters that are infused with fruit essences to get the refreshing hydration you crave.
  • Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juices to get healthy antioxidants and vitamins.
  • Choose low-sugar snacks like celery or carrot sticks.
  • Avoid snacking around the clock as this tends to leave food debris in your teeth longer.
  • Rinse with water and brush after all drinking, eating or snacking to keep bacteria at bay.
  • Floss to remove foods that get trapped between the teeth.
There’s a Tool For That

While it may seem convenient to open your mouth, bite down and tear open that plastic packaging, we don’t think you will agree when you chip or crack your chompers. Invest in good scissors and a box cutter to help you easily and safely open packages and boxes. We know you aren’t opening bottles with your teeth, but if you are, a bottle opener is in order as well!

Drink Wisely

Sure, coffee and tea can give you that much-needed morning jolt and wine is the perfect early evening wind down. But, the stains these daily helpers leave behind are less than appealing. Teeth whitening is an easy enough fix with our fast one-hour in office teeth whitening or customized and pre-filled trays for teeth whitening at home. However, the acidity of coffee, tea and wine is a more serious problem. It impairs the strength of your enamel, making them porous and prey to other staining foods and beverages. We aren’t saying no to java entirely but remember to swish with water immediately after consuming to keep the tannins from tea and red wine from sticking to teeth.

Along with these tips, see your dentist for routine dental care and practice daily oral hygiene to ensure your teeth stay healthy and strong!