Oral Hygiene and Your Overall Health

Poor oral health has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. But by changing certain habits, you can improve the health of your mouth and teeth and reduce your risk.

The Role of Diet and Lifestyle in Oral Health

A number of dietary habits and lifestyle factors can affect oral health, these include:

Sugar consumption. Having a sugar-laden diet will contribute to tooth decay and gum problems, as the bacteria in the mouth thrive in this environment,” producing tooth and gum-destroying enzymes and acids.

  • Dental care experts have long known that smoking cigarettes and cigars and using tobacco products can cause periodontal disease (gum disease), tooth decay, and oral cancer. Cigars can also cause periodontal disease and throat, or pharyngeal, cancer. The smoke from tobacco has a toxic effect on gum tissue, and can interfere with blood flow. Smoking also causes staining to the teeth, Smoking is a direct cause of oral cancer, and can also contribute to bad breath.
  • Drinking alcohol. Drinking can contribute to oral problems indirectly by resulting in a dehydrated mouth, this can allow bacteria to run riot.
  • Changes in weight. For those who wear dentures, changes in body weight tend to affect the way dentures fit. Just as weight gain or loss affects the way clothes fit, that gain or loss also affects the gum pads on which dentures rest.
  • Some medications, for example, some antibiotics, can cause internal staining of teeth, such as tetracycline staining, depending on the age at which you take them. Also, there are 200 to 400 medications, prescribed or over-the-counter, that have the side effect of drying up saliva. A dry mouth is more prone to gum disease and tooth decay, as well as bad breath.

To maintain your oral health, and overall good health, you should see your dentist on a regular basis to pick any problems early on. You should also practice good oral hygiene at home by thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. This prevents plaque building up and causing problems. There is nothing a dentist can do that a patient can’t undo by neglecting their dental care.