What lifestyle risk factors may lead to oral health problems?

The following are risk factors for oral and overall health problems, including heart disease:
  • Smoking
  • Unbalanced diet
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • A body mass index (BMI) more than 30
Research has shown that all of these lifestyle factors except exercise are strongly correlated with poor oral health and periodontal disease. But not exercising may harm oral health in other ways. People who do not exercise may be more likely to eat an unbalanced diet, be less health conscious, and may not practice good oral hygiene. Research has also suggested that women who do not have these risk factors may be significantly less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, strokes, or cancer.
The best thing you can do for your overall health and oral health, regarding lifestyle, is to not smoke.

Research shows that quitting smoking can decrease a person's chance for a heart attack, stroke or cancer, including oral cancer. And if you don't smoke, you can decrease your chance for developing gum disease -- a leading cause of tooth loss and sensitivity.

Other effects smoking can have on oral health include:
  • Delayed healing after a tooth extraction or other oral surgery
  • Few options for some kinds of dental care (smokers can be poor candidates for particular treatments such as implants)
  • Bad breath
  • Stained teeth and tongue
  • Diminished sense of taste and smell
You can practice good oral hygiene by always brushing your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between your teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner, replacing your toothbrush every three or four months and by eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks. Your dentist may also recommend an antimicrobial mouthrinse as part of your oral hygiene routine. Don't forget to schedule regular dental check-ups to keep your smile, and yourself, healthy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.