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Sharks can lose about 20 teeth each week, which is shocking but not surprising, since they’ve been known to chomp down on just about anything, from glass bottles to license plates to tires. While a shark’s undiscerning diet can be problematic for its digestive system, it’s not an issue for its teeth because it has so many extras. Marine biologist Michelle Wcisel has estimated that a great white shark can lose nearly 30,000 teeth during its lifetime! Needless to say, the tooth fairy doesn’t visit sharks; she couldn’t afford it!

By contrast, we human beings typically have 20 primary teeth (baby teeth) and 32 permanent adult teeth, and that’s all we get to last our whole lifetime. So, unless you’re a shark, you should avoid the following four bad habits which could potentially destroy your teeth.

1. Avoid chewing on ice and other hard objects. If you like to munch on ice cubes, you’re taking a big risk that you might chip or crack a tooth. Biting down on hard objects can irritate the soft tissue inside your teeth, resulting in a toothache or sensitivity to hot or cold foods. So, even though ice cubes are sugar-free, chewing on them is bad for your teeth. By the way, the same holds true for chewing on pens and pencils, opening items like bottle caps with your teeth, and chewing on hard candies, such as the notorious jawbreaker, which could also be called a “tooth-breaker.” In short, avoid biting jawbreakers like you would avoid biting sharks! Crunch some raw carrot sticks, instead.

2. Avoid playing contact sports without a mouth guard. If you want to play Russian roulette with your pearly whites, then you can risk serious dental injuries by playing contact sports like hockey, football or kickboxing without wearing a mouth guard. When the game gets grueling, your teeth could get chipped, fractured or knocked out altogether.

3. Avoid getting tongue piercings or other oral piercings. Tongue piercings and even lip piercings are also risky for your choppers: If you inadvertently bite down on the metal stud, then you could crack or chip your tooth. You might be skeptical, but have you ever bitten your tongue before? There are also other concerns with oral piercings: Sometimes the metal rubs against the gums, causing damage that could eventually lead to tooth loss. And last but not least, our mouths are full of hundreds of bacteria, which means that piercings raise the risk of sores and infection. If you’re considering getting an oral piercing, please talk to us first to learn more about the health risks.

4. Avoid grinding your teeth. Unfortunately, teeth-grinding — also known as “bruxism” — is usually something that you’re not aware of, since it occurs at night during sleep. Therefore, you typically can’t control bruxism consciously. Grinding your teeth (and clenching your jaws) begins to wear your teeth down. As your tooth enamel is worn away by this grinding process, your teeth can become sensitive to temperature changes. Other symptoms of this condition can be headaches, toothaches, ear aches, sore facial muscles and tender jaw joints. Bruxism can also lead to fractured teeth and even loosened teeth. Through regular dental checkups, we can detect bruxism and treat irregular wear on your teeth. Here at Brownsburg Family Dental Care, our objective is to help you preserve and protect your smile.