Chomping on ice
There are so many habits dentists wish you’d change when it comes to taking care of your teeth. But one of the biggies? Chewing ice which can chip away at fragile tooth enamel. “It can also crack teeth already weakened from restoration work,” says Harold Katz, DDS, who holds degrees in dentistry and bacteriology. Instead of chomping on ice cubes, ask for crushed ice if this is a habit you just can’t quit and know this: A cracked tooth may lead to a exposed tooth nerve that might even lead to a root canal. Be aware of these things that your dentist needs you to start doing differently.
Putting your teeth through a temperature rollercoaster
There’s something about pairing pizza and a cold drink—whether that’s a soda or beer—that seems like a great idea but can also set your teeth up for trouble as the hot temp expands your tooth enamel and the cold temp contracts it. “Eating hot and then cold foods won’t damage teeth per se but many people will notice exaggerated sensitivity with this combo,” says Leslie Renee Townsend, DDS, regional dental director for the Jefferson Dental Clinics in Dallas of tooth sensitivity that affects about 45 million people. “Keep in mind that a shooting or sharp pain while eating or drinking is a sign of a much greater problem such as a cracked tooth or advanced decay—this isn’t something you should ignore.” One solution: Consider eating your pizza with a knife and fork and blowing on it first to tone down the temperature.
Reaching for certain drinks
Certain drinks are more apt to stick to your teeth and erode enamel and this list includes sports drinks, sodas and wine. “In fact, wine tasters and sommeliers are known to have incredibly eroded teeth because of the high levels of acidity in wine,” says Anna Jotkowitz, a dental surgeon and instructor at Harvard Dental School. One solution: Pair your wine with cheese to minimize the damage caused by wine’s acid, says David Genet, DMD, a periodontist in Aventura, Florida. This is the most efficient way to keep your teeth clean without brushing them.