How well you care for your teeth and gums has a powerful effect on your overall health. Neglecting your oral health can lead to more than just sore teeth and bad breath - poor oral hygiene has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and other health problems like oral cancer. Researchers have found possible connections between gum problems and heart disease, bacterial pneumonia, stroke, and even problem pregnancies. But by changing certain habits, you can improve your oral health and lessen your risk for these conditions.
"You cannot be healthy with an unhealthy mouth any more than one can be healthy with an infected foot."
The role of diet and lifestyle in oral health
A number of dietary habits and lifestyle factors can affect oral hygiene and overall oral health. Dietary habits that may affect the health of your teeth and gums include:
- Sugar consumption - Having a sugar-laden diet will contribute to tooth decay and gum disease, as the bacteria in the mouth thrive in this environment. Sugary foods produce tooth and gum-destroying enzymes and acids. If you have a sugary diet and poor oral hygiene habits, you may need advanced dental treatment to remedy the problem to prevent serious problems and tooth loss
- Smoking - 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 cancers. Those who smoke will struggle to remedy the effects thereof but oral hygiene is even more important if you are a smoker
- Drinking alcohol - Alcoholic beverages can contribute to oral problems indirectly by resulting in a dehydrated mouth, which can allow bacteria to run rampant. Those who indulge in alcohol regularly should maintain good oral health and hygiene.
- Medication - Some medications, for example, certain antibiotics, can cause internal staining of teeth, such as tetracycline staining, depending on the age at which you take them. Other medications can cause a dry mouth or enlargement of gums. This is seen in patients taking medication for epilepsy.
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
A healthy mouth is the start to a healthy body. In order to achieve this it starts with basic at home maintenance and oral hygiene habits. These will include brushing twice a day for two minutes. Flossing once a day at night. Mouthwashes are a good adjunct and make sure to visit your dentist regularly for professional teeth cleaning to remove the buildup of plaque that cannot be removed with normal brushing.