What Lifestyle Choices Impact My Oral Health?

While you probably know lifestyle choices impact your medical health, you might be surprised to learn they can also affect your oral health, too. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is about more than just brushing and flossing. It’s also about maintaining balance in your oral microbiome. The lifestyle choices you make on a daily basis make a big difference when it comes to your health. Here we look at some different lifestyle choices and how they impact your oral health.

Diet and Your Oral Microbiome

A well-balanced diet is good for your health, including your mouth. As you know, sugary foods promote tooth decay, because sugar feeds mouth bacteria. This produces acid, which eats away at the enamel on your teeth. But there’s more to it than that. Our mouths have an oral “microbiome” with over 700 species of bacteria, fungi, and viruses living on our teeth, gums, inner cheeks, tongue and soft palate.

Luckily, this microbiome includes helpful bacteria that support oral health. So, you want to help keep those healthy bacteria happy and the harmful bacteria to a minimum. A good way to do this is to eat less sugar and enjoy more healthy fat and water. This helps reduce inflammation throughout your body, keeping you healthy — body and mouth.

Keep Hydrated

As mentioned above, drinking water helps create a healthier oral microbiome. Staying well-hydrated helps promote good oral health by rinsing away bad bacteria and acids to reduce the risk of tooth decay. A moist mouth also keeps new bacteria from forming. Choosing water over those sugary drinks and alcohol is always best. You can also rinse your mouth with water after meals to remove food particles (which when left behind can lead to plaque).

Quit Smoking

To add this risk to the list of smoking, tobacco products increase the risk for oral diseases, not to mention cause your teeth to yellow and stain. Both smoking and chewing tobacco can lead to gum disease while increasing the risk for oral cancer. This is the number one cause of most oral cancers.

Good Sleep Habits

Getting enough sleep – seven to eight hours a night – can lower the risk of developing gum problems. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can cause inflammation to various parts of your body. One area it impacts is your gums, which leads to gum disease. If you suffer from restless sleep, it could be related to your breathing. Improper breathing negatively impacts your health and can lead to fatigue, chronic headaches, dry mouth, and more. If you breathe through your mouth, this stops you from producing enough saliva to flush away bacteria while you sleep. 

If you find you are always tired and wake up with a dry mouth, your Lakewood, CO dentist might be able to help. You could have sleep-disordered breathing, which can be treated with myofunctional therapy to reduce issues such as snoring and mouth breathing.

Keep Active and Exercise

The benefits of exercise apply to your entire body, including your mouth. Regular weekly exercise can reduce your risk for periodontal disease as long as you are a non-smoker. In addition, if you have diabetes, regular exercise helps manage blood sugar levels and is also good for managing gum disease. Last but not least, if you tend to grind your teeth at night due to stress, exercise reduces stress, helping protect against tooth and jaw damage from grinding.

Proper Oral Care

Of course, proper oral care is important. This is not just brushing and flossing, but also regular dental checkups at your Lakewood dental clinic to identify issues including gum disease, sleep-disordered breathing, oral cancer, and other health issues.

Schedule your next Lakewood, CO dental appointment with Dr. Elizabeth Turner here and she’ll get to know you and evaluate your unique needs.

To learn more about our General Dentistry Services, visit this page here.

About the Author

Dr. Elizabeth Turner is a whole-health, family dentist in Lakewood, CO who provides general, restorative, and cosmetic dental care. She focuses on the mouth-body connection and helps her patients smile confidently, breathe clearer, and live healthier lives. 

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