We all have our weaknesses. There are times when I feel I can’t get through the rest of a day without having a bite of chocolate. I know too much will do damage in many ways, so I am careful to enjoy it in moderation. That means, too, that I do brush my teeth afterward so as not to bring on any lasting problems. When we get too involved in our vices, however, we’re warned to pull back so we don’t incur various health problems. We should also think of our teeth.

Every day there seems to be a story in the news warning us against this type of food or that type of activity. Vices are called just that because they help us relax and relieve stress. Some may not be habit-forming, and not all will cause physical or mental harm, but it’s important to know how a favorite vice of yours can affect your dental health. Let’s take a look at some things you may enjoy and how you can head off potential problems with your smile.

Red Wine: Some studies have shown that a glass of red wine can help reduce the risk of heart ailments, but unfortunately it can stain your teeth. The acid level of red wine in particular can cause damage if unchecked, so it’s a good idea to have a healthy snack when you imbibe. Cheese is the most obvious pairing, and it actually does help reduce the acidity in your mouth. Fresh fruit like apples and pears are also good to help keep stains at bay. Don’t forget to brush afterward.

Tobacco: Smoking isn’t necessarily a good habit to develop, but if you must have that morning or after dinner smoke, you should rinse with water when you are done. If you’ve been smoking for a while, stains can be stubborn, but you may want to try a toothpaste with baking soda or consult with your dentist about whitening options.

Sugar: Sweets may not necessarily stain, but sugar is not exactly a tooth’s best friend. When you enjoy a slice of cake, a candy bar, or another favorite treat, be sure to brush not long afterward. Drink water if you can, and even consider a treat that isn’t as sugary. Sugarless gum or fruit, for example.

If you know how to take care of your teeth, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Just be sure to brush!

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles for Dental companies.