How Your Lifestyle Affects Your Dental Health
Everything from the things you eat and drink to certain habits that you have can affect your dental health, some even causing problems that are irreversible or that can worsen with time. Aside from the obvious things like brushing your teeth regularly and avoiding sugary foods, your lifestyle choices can have good or bad effects on your overall dental health. By the time you have reached the end of this article, you should have a good idea of what habits to avoid and which ones to stick with.
Habits that Spell Trouble:
Flavoring Your Water
Water is by far the most important beverage that you can drink, but people seem to struggle with the plain taste of it so much. Often, these same people compromise by adding drink mixes, fresh fruit, or a squirt of lemon or lime juice to their water. While this definitely is a great way to be sure you are getting your daily water intake, it can also be detrimental to your dental hygiene. Drink mixes contain sugar and other ingredients that get stuck in the teeth, while lemons, limes, oranges, and other fruits you may flavor your water with are acidic, which can break down enamel over time. If you find that you must drink these beverages, be sure to at least rinse with plain water afterward.
Drinking Excess Coffee or Alcohol
While coffee is more likely to stain your teeth than alcohol, both spell out trouble when it comes to oral hygiene. Caffeine and alcohol are both dehydrating, which can lead to a decrease in saliva flow. This means that your mouth will not be rinsed as often as it needs to be, which can cause bad breath, gum disease, and more.
Bad Brushing Habits
Obviously, it is beneficial to brush your teeth. But did you know that you can brush too much? When you brush too often or with a toothbrush with bristles that are too hard, you can make your teeth more sensitive to cold or heat, cause gum irritation, wear down enamel, and make cavities worse. You’ll learn more about choosing a good brush in the next section.
When you get stressed, you may clench your jaw or even grind your teeth without noticing. The problem with this is that it can cause micro-fractures, which are weakened areas of your teeth. This puts you at risk for more damage. You may even find that this jaw clenching can cause actual fractures.
Chewing or Biting on Anything
From chewing ice to sticking the end of your glasses in your mouth when you are concentrating, any number of bad oral habits can cause mouth problems. If you bite your nails, chew on pens and straws, and do similar things, you are at risk of introducing germs to the mouth, as well as causing weak spots in the teeth like micro-fractures.
Now that we have covered what not to do if you want to improve your long-term dental health, let’s discuss the healthy habits that can improve your dental health.
Lifestyle Choices that Improve Dental Health:
Brushing with the Right Toothbrush
Everyone’s mouth is different, which is why toothbrushes come in different shapes and sizes, as well as with different degrees of bristle toughness. In order for brushing your teeth to do more good than harm, it is important to select a toothbrush that is the right size and toughness. The toothbrush you choose should be large enough to clean your mouth efficiently, but small enough to reach in the tight crevices in the back of your mouth. You should also choose a brush that is hard enough to remove plaque, but not so hard that it damages your teeth or gums.
Keep Your Dental Check-Ups
Once we become adults and our parents aren’t making us go to the dentist, many of us join the 50% of adults that do not keep our regular check-ups. Unfortunately, these check-ups are necessary in order to get a deep cleaning of our teeth and check for warning signs of gingivitis and and other mouth diseases. While you may be avoiding your check-up because of a lack of insurance, fear of the dentist, or another reason, it really is important that you work it out.
Enjoy Candy, Alcohol, and Sugar in Moderation
Too much of anything can be a bad thing, whether it is alcohol, candy, or sugar. While this does not necessarily mean you have to swear off of all your guilty pleasures for good, be sure to enjoy them in moderation and follow with a good brushing and flossing.
Whether in a good way or a bad way, the lifestyle choices you make can greatly impact your health. Be sure to make the right choices and not the wrong ones if you want to maintain a healthy mouth and a beautiful smile.