By Karen Weeks
You probably already know that keeping your teeth and gums healthy is incredibly important, but you may not be aware of just how much your oral health contributes to other parts of your overall well-being. Most of us have heard the standard advice for keeping up with flossing and brushing, but do you know the reasoning behind it? Read on to learn 10 things you never knew about dental health.
- Straight teeth are easier to keep clean.
Most of us would love to have a perfect smile. Having straighter teeth has many benefits beyond just looking nice. When there’s an overlap, it’s harder to brush and floss effectively and to keep bacteria and plaque from sticking around. Crooked teeth can also lead to halitosis and even gum disease if left untreated.
- Gum color is important.
Gum disease is a serious condition that has been linked to diabetes and heart disease. Many Americans live with it and aren’t aware of the risks. Healthy gums should be firm and pink, while soft tissue or discoloration could be a sign that something isn’t right.
- Sugar-free soda can harm your teeth.
Many people choose sugar-free soda as a “healthier” option, but these drinks can still damage your teeth, especially if you drink them often. This is because the acids formed by the bacteria in your mouth and the soda’s ingredients erode enamel and eventually lead to cavities.
- Acid reflux can cause problems, too.
Recurring acid reflux can damage enamel, as well. This can usually be treated with a change in diet and exercise.
- Dry mouth can cause problems.
Saliva plays an important role in your oral health by washing away tiny food particles and neutralizing the acids created by bacteria. If you don’t stay hydrated, you may not be making enough saliva. Drink water throughout the day to prevent dry mouth, especially if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
- Stress affects your teeth, too.
Most of us deal with stress in some form or another throughout the week, but did you know it can have a negative effect on your mouth? Many people grind their teeth in their sleep after a hard day, which can wear down or even crack teeth and lead to bite issues and sensitivity. If you notice a sore jaw in the morning, talk to your dentist about how to prevent grinding.
They may recommend trying different methods to reduce stress in your life. If you work from home, try to incorporate a dedicated workspace and take walks to wind down your workday.
- Healthy food is good for more than just your diet.
Eating well is a good idea, whether you’re dieting or not, since crunchy, fresh vegetables and fruit help to keep your teeth strong. It can also be part of lowering your stress levels. Be sure to floss after eating things like apples or celery to prevent small pieces from getting stuck.
- Your teeth might not just be stained.
We all want a white smile, but before you reach for over-the-counter teeth whiteners, talk to your dentist about whether that yellow discoloration is a stain or enamel loss.
- Sleep apnea could be related to your mouth.
Many Americans suffer from sleep apnea—a condition that prevents proper breathing during sleep. There are several causes, including improper jaw development. A dentist can help you find a solution and get relief.
10. Medications can affect your gums.
Certain medications can cause inflammation, which can affect your gums and lead to other problems. Talk to your doctor about potential interactions.
Good oral health is an important part of your overall well-being because it can help prevent other issues in the body. By making regular dental care part of your routine and seeking professional help as issues arise, you can keep your gums and teeth in great shape for years to come.
For dentists looking to join the constituent society of the ADA in Florida, join the Florida Dental Association today!