Dr. Michael Handler

How Poor Eating and Sleeping Habits Affect Your Oral Health

By Dr. Michael Handler

How Poor Eating and Sleeping Habits Affect Your Oral Health

It’s easy to understand why consuming lots of sugary food and drinks can affect your teeth, but there’s more to it than that. Your eating and sleeping habits have a direct impact on your oral health, and in exchange this can affect your overall physical wellbeing.

Here are some of the ways your lifestyle determines the health of your mouth:

Poor Eating Patterns

  • Sugar Triggers Tooth Decay
    We know you know this. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth, which combines with sugar to produce acid that attacks the surface of the teeth. While most foods contain some sugars, those with a lower content may have more nutrient qualities, and the quantity of sugar is less damaging. Control your family’s sugar intake by reading food labels carefully and choosing the items that are low in sugar.
  • Frequent Snacking Increases Risk
    Nibbling and sipping throughout the day increase your risk for tooth decay, which can result in fillings and extractions. Many nutritionists promote eating several small meals as a healthier option than two or three large ones, but from an oral hygiene viewpoint this is true only if you take steps to clean your teeth after each meal. This can include brushing and flossing, using a mouth rinse, or chewing sugar-free gum for a quick fix.
  • Eating Disorders Cause Havoc
    Disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia really do cause havoc with your overall health, and when it comes to your teeth they both reduce your immune system’s ability to cope with infections. In addition, the vomiting associated with bulimia brings stomach acid up into your mouth on a regular basis, eating away at the tooth surfaces and inviting bacteria to cause decay.
  • Unhealthy Diet Compromises the Immune System
    A healthy diet packed full of nutrients helps to support your immune system, which is your first line of defense against oral infections. With poor eating habits, maintaining healthy mouth and gum tissue is difficult, which increases your risk of periodontal disease that can cause tooth loss and systemic illnesses.

Bad Sleeping Habits

When it comes down to sleeping habits, not only does a lack of sufficient restful sleep affect your overall health, it can increase your chances of developing various chronic diseases. Research from the American Academy of Periodontology shows lack of sleep is second only to smoking as a risk factor for gum disease. Various sleep-related problems also affect your oral health, including:

  • Tooth-grinding and clenching, which can result in jaw problems, facial pain, damage such as worn-down, fractured or chipped teeth.
  • Snoring, which can lead to sleep apnea and a lack of restful slumber resulting in overall poor health.
  • Dry mouth, caused by breathing difficulties, medication or sleeping with your mouth open, all of which interfere with the production of saliva. This leads to the breeding of harmful bacteria in the dry, warm environment.
  • Sleeping with dentures, whether they are full or partial devices, which can contribute to the development of candidiasis or oral thrush.

Keep your mouth as healthy as possible by brushing and flossing after each meal, following a healthy diet low in sugar, and consulting with your family doctor to resolve stress-related sleep issues, snoring or dry mouth problems.


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