Your oral health has a significant impact on your overall health. Poor oral health is linked to a host of health problems ranging from endocarditis to cardiovascular disease. Proper brushing and flossing each day can help do far more than maintain your pearly whites. But since your lifestyle and oral health are connected, good oral health requires more than your time at the sink.
Try these 4 practical tips to keep your teeth – and your general health – in shiny shape:
Tip #1: Get a good night’s rest
It may sound odd, but sleep can affect your oral health. Research reveals that sleep deprivation is clearly linked to severe periodontal disease. This condition is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting your teeth and must be managed properly to protect against tooth loss.
The inflammation in your gums can also lead to gingivitis, a milder form of gum disease. Increasing the amount of sleep you get can help to protect your gums.
Tip #2: Stay away from smoking
Most people are aware that smoking has detrimental effects on your overall health. This most certainly includes your oral health.
Let’s look at some quick facts:
- Smoking increases your likelihood of having a stroke and a heart attack.
- It also increases your risk of developing cancer, including oral cancer.
- In fact, cigarette smoke is the primary risk factor for developing lung cancer.
- Smokers are also 7 times more likely to develop periodontal disease than non-smokers. In severe cases, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.
- Smoking is one of the links between gum disease and cardiovascular disease.
Smoking reduces your body’s ability to fight off infection because it weakens your immune system. Not only does smoking make it harder to fight off gum disease but it also makes it harder for your gums to heal.
Tip #3: Limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks
When you consume a large amount of sugar, the bacteria in your mouth convert that sugar into acid. The acid attacks the surface of your teeth, eroding your enamels and contributing towards the first step of tooth decay.
Sticking to a healthy diet is always a good idea when it comes to good oral health. However, you may find it challenging to reduce your sugar consumption. Added sugar is present in many common food options we come across in the grocery store. Seek out non-processed, whole foods to ensure that you are not adding unnecessary and refined sugar to your diet.
Tip #4: Reduce your alcohol intake
Consuming red wine or beer can contribute to stained teeth. Chromogens, or pigment-producing chemical compounds that bind to the enamel of teeth, have a high concentration in red wine and to a lesser extent, beer.
There are also more severe consequences that can stem from ingesting an unhealthy amount of alcohol. People who are addicted to alcohol tend to have higher levels of plaque and are 3 times more likely to suffer from permanent tooth loss.
Another concern with alcohol is the presence of dry mouth after excessive consumption. Saliva is essential for the removal of bacteria and plaque from the surface of your teeth. But if you drink frequently, your mouth may produce less saliva.
The bottom line
Sure, it’s important to brush and floss daily. But with all the food options out there and the bad habits we may fall into, those protections aren’t enough. If you want to restore your oral hygiene and keep future oral problems at bay, strive to make healthier lifestyle choices each day.
Visit your dentist at least twice a year to discuss how your choices impact your oral health. Be open with your health care team about your choices, and ask questions about what choices you can improve to maintain your overall health.
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