The following is a guest post by Jennifer Vishnevsky. Jennifer contributes to TopDentists.com, a dental health resource site that is part of the Everyday Health portfolio.
Good oral health isn’t only about showing off a bright, beautiful smile, though that’s certainly one of the perks. Your teeth and gums can show off a lot about your overall health. There are links between poor oral health and serious illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Consequently, there are a lot of ways that your lifestyle and diet can negatively affect your oral health.
Excess alcohol in your lifestyle can lead to harmful effects not only for your internal health but also visually affect you smile. A study from New York University found that wine can cause darkened dental stains on your teeth, particularly if you also consume dark beverages like tea or dark soda. You can avoid this by enjoying white wine only with water. Red wine has an even more staining effect on your teeth. You may find that these effects are decreased by drinking water immediately afterwards. Again, think moderation and take as much pro-action to fight staining.
Tobacco use can lead to a slew of health problems, like cancer, heart disease and stroke but it also can damage your oral health. Tobacco use increases the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth. Smoking also impairs blood flow to the gums and halts the normal production and health of the gum cells. When it is difficult for gum tissue to repair itself, it becomes more susceptible to the bacteria found in plaque, deeming a tobacco user more likely to develop gingivitis. There is also a direct correlation between tobacco use and oral cancer. Chewing tobacco, pipes and cigars are often touted as a “safer” use of tobacco. However, evidence suggests that any tobacco use greatly increases your risk for heart disease, stroke as well as tooth decay and gum disease.
It only makes sense that what you put in your mouth will have a direct correlation to your oral health. Cutting out whole grains, fruits and vegetables can really hurt your oral health. By eliminating key ingredients like vitamin C and calcium, you won’t be building and maintaining healthy gums and teeth. However, while vitamin C is vital for gum health, too much acid can erode enamel, especially highly acidic and sugary drinks like orange juice and other citrus beverages. Dentists recommend drinking fruit juice through a straw so that it limits contact with your teeth. If you are a strict vegetarian, you are at risk for deficiencies in vitamins D, B-2 and B-12, which affect oral health. If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to resist infection, which may contribute to gum disease. Severe gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Many researchers believe that the disease progresses faster and is potentially more severe in people with poor nutrition.
If you consume too many sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks or non-nutritious snacks, you are obviously at risk for diabetes and tooth decay. Remember, Halloween is a dentist’s worst nightmare. Tooth decay happens when plaque come into contact with sugar in the mouth, causing acid to attack the teeth. Foods that contain sugars–even the good kind, like fruit–are susceptible to tooth decay, but again the sugary culprits that grow the waistline are the worst for the mouth
Your mouth is a very important component of the body so it’s important to treat it with good health and nutrition. Always discuss concerns and questions with your dentist and doctor.