The hygiene practices, eating habits, sleep patterns, and other daily activities that make up your lifestyle significantly affect your dental health. It’s crucial to identify the things that could jeopardize your oral health, such as the development of tooth decay and gum disease before it’s too late. If you’re serious about taking care of this aspect of your health, visiting dental clinics like the Family Dental Health Center is a great start to assess your dental health.

In this article, you’ll learn the lifestyle factors that affect oral health. 

1. Eating Habits, Diet, And Nutrition

According to the World Health Organization, oral health is directly related to diet, wherein nutrition plays a role in craniofacial development, oral infectious diseases, and oral cancer. Eating habits include your diet and eating practices. 

Your diet has a great impact on the teeth, particularly in causing enamel erosion and dental caries. Because dental caries are considered a progressive disease occurring over time, any present oral disease you may have is most likely caused by your diet over the past years.

Here are the findings of WHO about the role of diet and nutrition in dental health:

  • Dietary Sugars: The evidence suggests that sugars are the most important dietary factor in tooth decay development or dental caries. Sugars are mono and disaccharides, which are often added to foods by manufacturers, cooks, and consumers, such as sugars in syrups, fruit juices, and honey.
  • Fruit Intake: Fruits participate in the dental caries developmental process if they’re consumed as a major part of the diet. When consumed in a mixed or balanced diet, there’s little evidence that it can significantly cause dental caries.
  • Cheese: Do you love cheese? If you do, then this should be good news for you. Consumption of cheese after a sugary snack virtually prevents low pH levels that’s often linked with sugar consumption. Cheese stimulates the production of saliva, increasing calcium concentration in the tooth enamel. Eating a five-gram piece of hard cheese after breakfast resulted in significantly fewer dental caries, according to the study.
  • Soda Consumption: Young people showed a higher prevalence of erosion with soda consumption. Enamel slab experiments show that tooth enamel softens within an hour of exposure to cola.

2. Grooming 

Grooming is a vital aspect of a person’s lifestyle. It also one of the activities that fall under what’s called self-care. Vulnerable groups, such as children and seniors, need help when it comes to self-care because they don’t have the full capability to brush their teeth, floss, and perform other oral care tasks. 

Seniors may neglect oral care because they’re too weak due to existing medical conditions, such as dementia, mobility issues, stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease. Children usually miss brushing without parental supervision because they choose to play over doing self-care activities.

3. Habits

Are you fond of biting your fingers when stressed? Or do you use your teeth to open a bottle of beer or soda? Watch out for these harmful oral practices. Never use your mouth for opening or tearing things because these habits can crack, chip, or knock down teeth.

Also, avoid the following habits that may affect your dental health:

  • Midnight snacking
  • Snacking after brushing
  • Thumb sucking
  • Ice cube or chip sucking

4. Behaviour, Culture, And Linguistic Factors

A person’s lifestyle develops from their patterns of behaviors. Your behavior and how you do things affect your oral health. Dental behavior management issues are more recognized as factors that affect oral health than dental fear or anxiety. These are associated with general behavioral considerations such as one’s activity, impulsivity, and temperamental traits like shyness and negative emotionality. 

According to a recent dental health publication, only a small number of children with uncooperative behavior exhibit dental fears. Also, not all fearful children have dental behavior guidance problems. Fears may occur because of a perceived lack of pain control or a past painful healthcare experience.

Linguistic and cultural factors play a role in cooperation and choice of behavior guidance techniques for pediatric patients too. Every culture has its own set of values and practices. Hence, it’s essential to understand how dental health professionals should interact with patients from different cultures. 

Dental health experts can suggest tools to improve oral health. For instance, translation services can be a helpful tool for patients who have limited English proficiency. Such tools can help patients better understand what the dentist is trying to explain and vice versa.

5. Vices

Smoking, alcoholism, and drug abuse can compromise your oral health. Here’s how vices can affect oral health:

  • Smoking: One of the best practices to protect dental health is quitting smoking. Smoking drastically increases your risk for gum disease, causing dental issues, toothache, teeth staining, and bad breath. The tar and nicotine in tobacco smoke cause yellowish or stained teeth. Smokers should brush their teeth several times daily to improve teeth appearance, prevent staining, and prevent gum disease. 
  • Alcoholism: Beverages high in alcohol, such as spirits, can dry the mouth, causing bad breath and cavities. If the mouth is dry, plaque develops and bacteria proliferate. Saliva keeps your teeth moist and removes bacteria from the teeth. Beer causes staining due to the dark malts and barley found in dark beers. Also, alcohol abuse is considered the second most common risk factor for oral cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
  • Drug Abuse: The drugs most often abused that are associated with teeth and gum damage include cocaine (a potent stimulant), amphetamines, marijuana, methamphetamine, and opioids. Snorting powdered cocaine causes damages to the upper palate tissues, eventually forming a hole between the mouth and the nose. Methamphetamine makes the mouth dry, wearing away enamel. On the other hand, amphetamines, like ecstasy, cause dry mouth and dehydration, thus damaging the teeth, the enamel, and other oral structures. Meanwhile, heroin increases cravings for sugary foods, damaging teeth and their roots.

6. Rest And Sleep 

Sleep deprivation harms oral health because poor sleep is linked with increased gum inflammation. Sleep promotes tissue repair, even in the oral cavity. If you don’t get enough rest and sleep, your oral tissues don’t get a chance to repair themselves, predisposing you to gum disease. 

The amount of sleep a person gets every night influences the onset of periodontitis, causing deep pockets between the gums and the teeth. Periodontitis loosens the teeth and destroys the jaw bone that holds the teeth in place.

Chronic poor sleep makes an individual suffer from anxiety or depression, which can cause grinding of the teeth during sleep (also called bruxism).

7. Exercise

Exercise is highly beneficial to your teeth. It also works the other way around; poor dental health can affect physical fitness. A lack of regular exercise can affect oral health. Working out helps reduce the risk of gum disease or periodontitis. However, some exercise habits contribute to tooth decay and the growth of bacteria. 

Here are some tips to prevent the damaging effects of some exercise habits:

  • Stay Hydrated During Workout: Drink more water than energy or sports drinks, which can take a major toll on the teeth.
  • Breathe Through The Nose: Heavy breathing causes opening the mouth during exercise, reducing saliva production and flow. Avoid the proliferation of bacteria by breathing through your nose when exercising. 

8. Work

Too heavy a workload can consume your time, leaving you with no time for self-care, including brushing your teeth and flossing. Proper time management is important to ensure you have time for essential activities, such as a time for exercising, grooming, and performing dental health practices.

Procrastinating brushing your teeth can lead to unhealthy dental habits. You might end up brushing your teeth incorrectly or too quickly because you need to rush things. Sometimes, you might also neglect drinking water, which isn’t good for the mouth and your overall health.

9. Stress Management

Don’t underestimate the effect of stress on your dental health. Stress results in oral hygiene neglect because of poor self-care practices. A stressed-out or burned-out person tends to neglect proper dental hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing the teeth every day. Also, stress affects your food choices, wreaking havoc on your oral health. 

It’s crucial to check your stress management capabilities to effectively deal with everyday challenges to avoid failing your dental and overall health. Identify the sources of your stress and find ways to resolve your negative thoughts and emotions associated with the perceived threat. 

Seeking professional dental help is a must if you’re under stress. Your dentist can provide you with dental tools, such as mouthguards to help protect your teeth in stressful periods, which also promotes better sleep.

Check the following stress management tips to avoid neglecting your dental health:

  • Music Therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Massage Therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Imagery

10. Appointment Compliance 

Do you often miss your medical and dental appointments for various reasons? Missing important regular checkups like dental checkups can be detrimental to your oral and overall health. 

Regular dental checkup consists of prophylaxis treatment and detection of impending major dental health problems, such as gum disease. Missing such important appointments can lead to tooth loss and other irreversible damages.

Conclusion

Lifestyle factors, such as your behavior patterns, culture, diet and nutrition, rest and sleep, vices, and other daily activities and practices can affect oral health. Choose to live a healthy lifestyle to safeguard your dental health and your overall health. Make sure to comply with your dental appointment schedule and try your best to practice proper dental hygiene. By doing so, you’ll boost your confidence and become a happier and better person.