• By 1300 SMILES
  • August 9, 2023

From the food we eat to our daily activities, lifestyle plays a significant role in determining overall health. But often, there’s a gap in our awareness about the profound impact our lifestyle choices have on oral health.  

If you’re like most people, the odds are good that your idea of a healthy lifestyle begins and ends with having a good exercise routine and making sure you eat lots of fruit and veggies. 

While both of these factors play a big role in keeping you fit and healthy, the reality is that your oral health (the condition your teeth and gums are in) has a big impact on your overall health. 

So let’s find out how your lifestyle choices, beyond just your diet, can influence your oral health.


1. Gum Disease: Not Just About Your Gums 

Gum disease doesn’t merely pose a threat to your oral cavity. From ailments such as pneumonia and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) to complications with diabetes, the reach of gum disease is far-reaching.  

It’s why brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily and seeing your dentist on a regular basis are so important for overall health. 


2. Smoking: Beyond Just Stained Teeth

The most obvious effect of smoking is the staining and discolouration of teeth, caused by the nicotine and tar in cigarettes.

But this is just the aesthetic tip of the smoking iceberg.

Smoking has also been linked to a decrease in blood flow to the teeth and gums, facilitates bone shrinkage, leads to teeth loss, and disrupts saliva production – a serious problem given how crucial a role it plays in protecting your teeth from decay.

By far the most dramatic effect of prolonged tobacco use however is oral cancer, which is 9 times more likely to occur in smokers than non-smokers.

If you also drink a lot of alcohol, then your risk of developing cancer in your mouth, throat, tongue, lips and salivary glands is even further increased.


3. Alcohol: The Sugary & Acidic Villain

It’s not simply the heightened risk of developing oral cancer, serious though that is, that should be a concern for anyone who drinks on a regular basis or to excess.

The sugar and acidity of alcohol are major contributors to teeth erosion, as is the acid reflux which accompanies vomiting, an all-too-common consequence of a night of heavy drinking.

Compounding the damage is the fact that many people stumble home and go straight to sleep after a big night out, only brushing their teeth the next morning, leaving their mouth unprotected from erosion and decay all night.

Alcohol also dehydrates you, which affects how much saliva your mouth produces, and hence, how much protection your teeth are given.

Drinking lots of water both when you’re out partying, and the next day when you’re recovering is one way to remedy the effects of excessive alcohol consumption, as is limiting the amount of soft drinks you consume.


4. Stress: An Invisible Culprit

Life comes with all kinds of high-pressure, difficult situations.

The problem is that too much stress can lead to all kinds of problems with your mouth, teeth and gums.

You can end up with mouth ulcers and cold sores, grinding and clenching of teeth which you may not even notice taking place, and at worst, temporomandibular disorders (TMJD), a painful condition affecting the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull.

Stress can also lead you to neglect even the most basic of habits such as healthy eating and brushing and flossing your teeth.


5. Illicit Drugs: Dancing with Dental Danger

The modern party scene and drug consumption, unfortunately, go hand in hand.

Alongside the obvious behavioural effects and health risks, drugs also lead to various oral problems like dry mouth (lack of saliva), gum disease, and rapid tooth decay.

Their use is also often accompanied by binge eating all sorts of unhealthy foods, particularly ones high in sugar, the corrosive effects of which are made even worse by the accompanying neglect of basic personal and oral hygiene.


It all starts with a smile

Your lifestyle and the choices you make play a pivotal role in determining not just your oral health, but also your overall well-being.

It’s essential to understand the cascading effects that seemingly unrelated habits can have on your mouth.

So, next time you think of your health, remember – it all starts with a smile.



Content courtesy of: https://www.ada.org.au