A number of dietary habits and lifestyle factors can affect oral health, including:
- Sugar consumption. A sugar-laden diet will contribute to tooth decay and gum problems, as the bacteria in the mouth thrive in this environment, producing tooth and gum-destroying enzymes and acids.
- Smoking. Dental care experts have long known that smoking cigarettes and cigars and using tobacco products can cause periodontal disease (gum disease), tooth decay, and oral cancer. Cigars can also cause periodontal disease and throat, or pharyngeal, cancer. Smoking also stains the teeth, is a direct cause of oral cancer, and can contribute to bad breath.
- Drinking alcohol. Drinking can contribute to oral problems indirectly by resulting in a dehydrated mouth. Having a dry mouth can allow bacteria to run rampant.
- Changes in weight. For those who wear dentures, changes in body weight tend to affect the way dentures fit. To help maintain a healthy weight and fight tooth decay, eat a diet rich in high-fiber fruits and vegetables.
- Medication. Antibiotics and other medications can cause internal staining of teeth. Also, there are 200 to 400 medications, prescribed or over-the-counter, that have the side effect of drying up saliva. As stated above a dry mouth is more prone to gum disease as well as tooth decay and bad breath.
To maintain your oral health, and overall health, you should see your dentist regularly to head off any problems early. You should also practice good oral hygiene at home by carefully brushing and flossing your teeth regularly in order to prevent plaque from accumulating and causing problems. There isn’t anything a dentist can do that a patient can’t undo by neglecting their dental regimen.