Mardi Gras is indulgence with permission, at least for a day. But do you indulge bad habits at the risk of your oral health all year long? Whether you’re planning to dig into a King Cake, display some bead necklaces between your teeth, or pop in a set of glow-in-the-dark fangs, the way you celebrate Mardi Gras affects your teeth – but it’s usually nothing that a good brushing can’t fix (unless you get really crazy). There might be things you do beyond Fat Tuesday, however, that negatively impact the health and wellness of your teeth, gums, and smile.

Not Flossing Every Day

Flossing, for some people, is annoying. They don’t want to take 30 to 60 seconds to clean the gunk out from between their teeth using a piece of string that is hard to hold. But flossing is critical to good gum health and overall oral health. Without proper cleaning between teeth, bacteria and plaque have room to party hearty until they begin eating away at your enamel, leading to cavities and, eventually, gum disease.

Using Your Teeth as a Tool

Sure, your teeth are right there in your mouth, strong and secure and ready to rip open that bag of chips or pry the cap off your beer. But just because your teeth are readily available that doesn’t mean you should be using them as a bottle opener or a pair of scissors. It only takes one wrong move or overexertion and you could crack or chip a tooth. You’ll need porcelain veneers, at a minimum, to correct the problem. Protect the teeth you have and just say no to using teeth for anything other than biting and chewing food.

Sipping on Caffeine

Everyone has their vices to get through the day – for some, an ongoing java fix, soda habit, or dependence on energy drinks is what helps them stay awake and keep going. But the more you drink, the more you’re bathing your teeth in acids. As in, a constant barrage of bacteria swimming around your teeth. Plus, too many dark drinks can eventually build up on your enamel. If you’re at this point and find yourself wishing for whiter teeth, do your best to break this sippity-sip-sip habit, no matter what your beverage of choice is, and make an appointment for professional teeth whitening.

Sucking on Hard Candy

Some people do their best to diet during the day and, to prevent themselves from snacking, choose to suck on pieces of hard candy over and over or eat lollipops. But this constant sugar bath is a no-no for your teeth. Sure, a little indulgence on sugar-centric holidays won’t do much harm, but keep up this habit on a regular basis and you’re headed for cavity row. If you must have something in your mouth to keep you from overeating or just keep you busy for whatever reason, depend instead on sugar-free gum with xylitol – it’s safer for your teeth and helps stimulate saliva production. Keep your love of certain drinks for mealtime only.

Chewing on Ice

Ice may seem completely innocuous. It is water after all – no cavities are going to develop with this habit. Perhaps not, but being unable to resist those last cubes in your drink, or opting for a glass of ice alone, spells disaster for your smile. Think about how hard a blender has to work to crush ice – your teeth don’t need or want that job. It’s possible for thoroughly frozen pieces of ice to crack or chip your teeth. If you’re using ice as a dieting method as well, depend on something that’s better for you and that will straighten your teeth while keeping your snacking habits at a minimum: Invisalign.

Ready to break your bad habits, or at least ready to correct what oral health problems these vices have caused? Contact Dr. Shaista Najmi at Ivory Dental in Jacksonville, Florida, to talk about your smile makeover options.

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