Poor oral hygiene can lead to more than gum disease and can be the underlying cause of more serious health issues. Stress and diet can also affect oral health, particularly when an individual is predisposed to these types of problems due to his or her genetics.
Stress and Oral Health
When a person is stressed, he or she may become less likely to follow proper oral hygiene procedures. As depression sets in, so do bad habits like biting your nails or chewing other objects. People who are anxious or stressed out tend to clench their teeth more and could even develop an unconscious habit of grinding their teeth, day or night. This can cause significant and irreversible tooth damage. Stress can cause canker sores and cold sores to develop. Long-term stress can affect a person’s immune system, thus making him or her more susceptible to oral infection and disease and other health conditions.
Diet As It Relates To Your Oral Health
Individuals who are depressed, stressed-out or experiencing high levels of anxiety often turn to food for comfort and relief. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits. The types of food you eat, and the frequency, will have a direct impact on the health of your mouth. Too much sugar consumption is more likely to cause tooth decay. An unbalanced diet can sometimes lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. As certain vitamins and minerals are important to the health of your teeth and gums, this can lead to problems with oral health.
Ways to Improve Your Oral and Overall Health
Fortunately, you can take action to improve your oral and overall health. Green tea has been known to promote healthy teeth and gums. Meditation and yoga are proven stress-relievers. You can also improve your oral and overall health by:
- Drinking lots of water. Those with a naturally dry mouth can stimulate saliva production, and thus protect the hard and soft oral tissue, by using sugarless candy or gum.
- Eating a well-balanced diet with foods from each of the major food groups can help you avoid developing vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
- Avoiding soft, sweet, sticky and sugary foods as these can cling to your teeth leading to decay.
- Eating proper food portions, so you do not overeat. The correlation between overeating and dental disease is similar to the correlation with heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.
- Brushing your teeth for a minimum of six minutes a day (three times a day for two minutes each time). Using toothpaste will help you remove plaque that could lead to cavities, gum disease and even permanent damage or loss. Using the proper brushing method can also help remove harmful bacteria.
- Seeing your dentist for regular, routine checkups.
- Smile more often. The simple action of smiling can help improve your mood, lower your stress levels and have a positive effect on your physical health and well-being.