Everyday Habits that Damage the Teeth

woman biting a candy

Everyday Habits that Damage the Teeth

St. Lawrence Dentistry wants to help in your goal of maintaining optimal oral health as this is one of the keys to overall wellbeing.

Most of our Mississauga community know how important it is to regularly brush and floss. However, some other habits can be harmful and are easy to forget about and can impact the long-term health of our teeth. In addition, there are everyday habits that may appear harmless but can significantly impact our teeth.

Daily habits which St. Lawrence Dentistry advises our patients to consider curtailing are:

  1. Eating sticky, sugary treats. Sugary snacks increase your risk of tooth decay. Bacteria in dental plaque feed on the sugar in your mouth to produce acid that attacks tooth enamel. Try eating candy with meals instead of as a separate snack. Our mouth makes more saliva during meals, helping rinse away sticky and sugary residue. You may want to substitute sugar snacks with more healthy meal replacement bars. You can find these at our local Loblaws Store on Lakeshore Road if you live in Port Credit.

  2. Drinking soda. Like sweet treats, there is loads of sugar and acid in soda. The acids in soft drinks soften the tooth enamel, which leads to dental cavities. Drinking just one soda a day can cause significant damage to teeth in both adults and children. Try staying hydrated with sugar-free drinks or freshwater.

    For more information on dental decay, please visit us here: Caries/Cavities Dental Treatment

  3. Smoking or chewing tobacco. Tobacco products significantly increase the risk of oral cancer and lead to yellowing teeth. Smoking can also cause gum and periodontal disease and even decayed and lost teeth. Even worse than regular smoking is the now legal Cannabis use. In addition to all the oral effects of smoking Cannabis also has dangerous psychogenic effects.

    To learn more about smoking cessation please visit us here: Smoking Cessation
    To learn more about the effects of smoking Cannabis of your oral health please visit us here: Cannabis and your Oral Health

  4. Brushing too hard. Brushing is an essential component of good oral health, but correctly. Using a toothbrush with bristles that are too firm or brushing too aggressively can wear down the enamel, irritate your gums, increase your teeth’s sensitivity, and cause cavities. We recommend purchasing a soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush. If you live in Port Credit, the Shoppers Drug Mart at the Lakeshore and Maple intersection has a great selection. If you are a patient at our office, you can always get an ideal toothbrush at St. Lawrence Dentistry.

    For more information on selecting the right toothbrush please visit us here: How to Choose the Right Toothbrush

  5. Grinding teeth. Teeth grinding (bruxism) can wear teeth down over time. It is most often caused by stress and sleeping habits, making it hard to control. Wearing a mouth guard at night can prevent the damage caused by grinding. If you feel you are grinding your teeth, please talk to Dr. Hawryluk, and he will assess your situation.

    To learn more about dental night guards please visit us here: Night Guard

  6. Chewing on ice, pens and pencils. Biting on pens and pencils can chip and crack teeth, leading to cavities and possible tooth loss if the damage is severe. Chewing on ice may also create small cracks in tooth enamel. Broken teeth from chewing on these non-edibles can impair your ability to chew and smile with confidence. You may want to consider carrying sugarless gum with you for the next time you feel the urge to chew.

  7. Nail biting. Not only does nail biting increase the risk of you consuming a wide variety of harmful bacteria, but it can also cause chipping and cracking of teeth. In addition, bacteria potentially present under your fingernails can make a home in your mouth, leading to an infection in your mouth and gums. Bitter-tasting nail polishes are an excellent solution to help break this habit. In addition to the oral issues of nail-biting, it can also wreak havoc on your hands, leading to a host of dermatologic problems.

  8. Alcohol consumption. Some alcoholic drinks have a high sugar content which, as stated above, is a significant factor in tooth decay. When selecting alcoholic beverages, we recommend looking for less sugar content. If you are in Port Credit, we know that the sales attendants at our local LCBO are excellent in helping educate on sugar contents in wine. Dry brut champagne typically has about a half gram of sugar per 5-ounce serving. On the sweeter end of the spectrum, Doux champagne can have anywhere between 8 and 10 grams of sugar; hence, drier champagne is ideal for your dentition. Wine has a similar range, with a typical dry white having 3 grams of sugar per 5-ounce serving relative to a significant 8 grams of sugar for a sweeter red wine or port. Therefore, it is always prudent to select a drier drink for the sake of your teeth. On another note, alcohol consumption leads to a decrease in saliva flow. Instead of being washed on their own, bacteria can adhere to the enamel and increase your risk of tooth decay. Finally, alcohol can stain teeth. Red wine, sangria, and similar drinks with deep hues not only turn your teeth red but can result in long-lasting discoloration and lack of luster.


The first step in breaking these habits is to recognize that they can compromise the structure and health of your smile. Awareness can be curative in itself. Please ask the staff at St. Lawrence Dentistry if you would like more information or discuss diminishing the above habits. Transforming destructive habits into protective measures can keep your teeth looking great for years to come.

Dr. Allan Hawryluk
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Dr. Allan Hawryluk

Allan Hawryluk Jr. is a Mississauga-based dentist who has built a reputation for comprehensive dental care. Born and raised in Port Credit, he returned after completing his dental residency in 2003 at the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center. He feels privileged to serve the community and is committed to maintaining our clinic standards set by his late father - Dr. Allan R. Hawryluk (Sr).