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Four Lifestyle Factors That May Affect Your Teeth

You've heard that sugary, overly processed diets and lax oral hygiene can damage teeth, but a lot of other factors (such as lifestyle, health, and even genetic factors) can also affect how healthy your teeth are. Here are four lifestyle factors that you may not have realized were affecting your teeth.

1. Sleep Position

Did you know that sleeping on your back may contribute to sleep apnea, a common cause of nighttime tooth grinding? Conversely, if you grind your teeth at night but don't have sleep apnea, sleeping on your back may be the best position to reduce grinding and clenching.So if you suspect you grind your teeth at night, you may want to get a sleep study done to find out if you have sleep apnea or not. This can help clarify so you can decide on the best sleep position for you.Some dentists will simply prescribe a night guard for grinding. But while a night guard protects your enamel from excess wear at night, it doesn't avoid stressing your gums when you clench and grind your teeth. So taking a multipronged approach to the issue may be best.

2. Stress Levels

Many people carry excess tension in their shoulders, neck, and jaw region. This often leads to clenched teeth throughout the day, which can transfer to teeth grinding at night as well. But even if you just clench your jaw during the day, you may still be unconsciously stressing your jaws and wearing down your enamel.Other ways high stress levels can damage your teeth include:

Making you statistically more likely to snack and less likely to cook healthy meals

Making you feel like you don't have as much time to spend on oral hygiene

Causing acid reflux, which can erode your teeth and cause cavities

Leading to complications such as dehydration and dry mouth

If you've noticed an influx of stress in your life recently, be aware that it could wreak havoc on your oral health. To avoid this negative impact, try refocusing on oral hygiene and adding de-stressing habits to your daily routine.  

3. Caffeine and Beverage Habits

You likely already know that sugar-filled beverages are bad for your teeth. But even straight black coffee or a coffee or tea latte without sugar can damage your teeth if you sip it slowly all day (caffeinated or not). Coffee is acidic, so it can damage tooth enamel, and lactose (milk sugar) in a latte can feed cavity-causing bacteria. In fact, a cup of milk has 12 grams of lactose.Caffeinated beverages also have the potential to harm oral health in other ways. For example, caffeine is a diuretic so it can cause you to become slightly more dehydrated, and it can dry your mouth out slightly (meaning there's less helpful saliva to neutralize acids and carry minerals to teeth). Tannins in coffee and tea can stain teeth, and coffee can cause bad breath.

4. Gum Chewing Habits

Chewing gum can, in theory, affect oral health in either a positive or a negative way. First off, it can affect your oral health positively (assuming you're using sugar-free gum) because it helps get saliva flowing, which keeps your oral environment neutral in PH and rich in minerals. And if you use xylitol-containing gum after eating, it may even reduce plaque formation.On the other hand, if you chew gum constantly, it may contribute to jaw tension, which can translate into a negative effect: increased tooth grinding at night. And if you have TMJ, you should consult your dentist before taking up a chewing gum habit.These four lifestyle habits may not be as obvious as a sugary diet or a smoking habit or failing to brush your teeth, but they can still have decided repercussions on your oral health.

by Sunrise Dental

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