5 Habits That Hurt Your Smile

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Do you brush every day for two minutes at a time? Yay! Do you floss daily, using proper technique? Good for you! Do you visit us for a cleaning and exam every six months? Hooray! If you follow all of these practices, you may think you are doing everything right to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
But there are some bad dental habits that may hinder your efforts at meticulous oral hygiene. Read on to learn if you are sabotaging your smile — and schedule a checkup at Family Dental of Spokane Valley. Call our Spokane Valley, WA office at 509-850-3217.


We don’t have to tell you that smoking is just plain bad. Same with chewing tobacco. They cause cancer, lung disease, and numerous other health issues. They are also terrible for your mouth on several fronts. Tobacco use will:

  • turn your teeth yellow and make your breath smell offensive
  • inhibit your ability to taste and smell properly
  • make you much more likely to develop gum disease (and your gum disease may be resistant to treatment)
  • put you at a high risk for oral cancer.
  • slow the healing process for oral surgery and other dental procedures

We understand quitting is more easily said than done. Check out these tips and advice from people who have been in your shoes.


Read this before reaching for that bag of chips in your desk drawer. What you eat matters, but how you eat is important too. When you restrict your eating to defined mealtimes, your mouth isn’t subjected to a constant barrage of food and the resulting bacterial acid attacks. Plus, the good habit of drinking lots of water will help your mouth stay relatively clean between meals.
When you have the habit of continuous snacking throughout the day, your mouth never gets a break. Every time you eat, you subject your teeth and gums to a proliferation of bacteria and the enamel-destroying acids they produce. So if you are a frequent snacker, your mouth is, in effect, under constant attack. It doesn’t help that popular snack foods tend to be loaded with sugar and carbs and particularly appealing to nasty microbes. Your teeth may even develop a yucky bacterial film that wears away the enamel and causes your breath to stink.

Using Your Teeth on Objects

Your teeth are strong and durable, but if you abuse them, they will chip or crack. (Ouch!) Here’s a simple test: is what you are about to put into your mouth food? If the answer is yes, go ahead. If the answer is no, stop what you are doing and put the thing down.
Here are a few ways you should not use your teeth:

  • chewing on your fingernails
  • opening packages
  • removing clothing tags
  • munching on ice

Not only do you risk a dental emergency, but chewing on objects is a fantastic way to transfer potentially harmful bacteria to and from your mouth.

Brushing Too Hard

Proper brushing is about being consistent (two minutes twice per day) and thorough, reaching all parts of the tooth enamel and gumline. It’s not about elbow grease. Indeed, brushing your teeth too hard will do more harm than good.
Along with all the bad stuff, it will scrub away your tooth enamel, making you susceptible to sensitivity and creating a convenient opening for bacteria to invade your teeth. It may also damage your gums and lead to painful recession. So don’t attack your teeth — brush them gently.

Drinking Your Sugar

Sugary soft drinks, juices, and sports drinks are some of the worst culprits when it comes to damaging your dental health. Not only are they high in calories, but every swig coats your mouth in liquid sugar. This coats your entire mouth and seeps into all the crevices of your teeth. Bacteria begin to multiply like crazy and give off acids that destroy your tooth enamel, causing cavities and decay. If you’ve developed the habit of drinking these sugar bombs throughout the day, you are putting your teeth under constant attack.
If you want a drink, stick to plain milk or water. Milk, of course, is a great source of tooth-boosting calcium. Water rinses away food particles and bacteria, and helps neutralize acids. Tap water is especially beneficial, as most municipal water supplies are fortified with fluoride, which strengthens tooth enamel. Get into the habit of carrying a reusable bottle filled with tap water as you go about your day.
Kick these bad dental habits to the curb. And book your next dental appointment at Family Dental of Spokane Valley. You may reach us through our handy online contact form or call our Spokane Valley, WA office at 509-850-3217.

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