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There is nothing that quite compares to a healthy and beautiful smile. On average, patients are pretty efficient at caring for their smiles, but many also practice bad habits that can actually harm their teeth. Here are three habits that we encourage you to quit now or avoid altogether if you want to protect the health of your smile:

1. Chewing on ice. Many people like to crunch up their ice after finishing a cold drink or as a means of avoiding eating unhealthy snacks; however, this can be very harmful to your smile because ice is very strong and rigid and can withstand a lot of pressure. The level of force needed to break ice can crack or chip teeth and hurt gums, and the temperature can exacerbate sensitivity in the teeth. Instead, we invite you to try chewing sugarless gum.

2. Using your teeth to open things. You may feel the urge to tear open an envelope or food packet with your teeth, but human teeth are not designed for this function and can chip or crack. If this happens, you may need treatment to prevent painful abscesses. We encourage you to just reach for the scissors instead.

3. Using cough drops. Though medicinal, cough drops can contain as much sugar as hard candy. Sucking on a cough drop can trap sugar in the sticky tooth plaque, allowing it to turn into acid that attacks tooth enamel and creates tooth decay. If you need a cough drop for a cough, be sure to thoroughly brush your teeth afterward so that you don’t develop a cavity.

Healthy dental habits are imperative if you want good overall dental health. Our goal at Shirer Family Dentistry is to help patients and their families practice good oral care habits in Aiken, South Carolina. Call 803-648-6400 today for your appointment with our dentists, Drs. Michael and Susannah Shirer.