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The impact of lifestyle choices on our oral health

Lifestyle choices that can affect your teeth

Brushing, flossing and regular dental appointments.

You’ve been told repeatedly that these are needed to keep your smile healthy, but in truth, they only go so far. It could be argued that our everyday lifestyle habits have the biggest impact on our oral health and well-being.

It’s easy to overlook the subtle ways in which our daily choices affect the health of our smile. From the foods we eat to how we manage stress, every decision has an impact on our teeth and gums. Let our experienced team talk you through the lifestyle choices that can affect your smile.


It’s no secret that excessive sugar consumption is detrimental to our oral health. When you consume sugary foods and drinks, bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars and produce acids that attack your tooth enamel. This can lead to long-term issues like tooth decay and cavities.

To minimise the impact of sugar on your teeth, you should limit your intake as much as possible. Opt for healthier alternatives like fresh fruit and vegetables that satisfy your sweet tooth and provide the nutrients needed to maintain your oral health.


While the occasional glass of wine or celebratory cocktail may seem harmless, excessive alcohol consumption can take a toll on your oral health. Alcoholic drinks are often acidic, which can weaken tooth enamel and increase your susceptibility to decay. Alcohol also dehydrates the mouth, reducing saliva production and diminishing its protective effects against bacteria and acids.

Moderation is key when it comes to alcohol. After drinking, make sure to wash your mouth out with water to help neutralise acids and rehydrate.


The effects of smoking extend beyond the lungs, impacting your oral health as well. Cigarettes contain a variety of harmful chemicals that can stain your teeth and contribute to gum disease, tooth loss and even oral cancer. Smoking impairs blood flow to the gums, compromising their ability to fight off infection and repair damage.


Quitting smoking is one of the most impactful steps you can take to improve your oral health and overall well-being. Our experienced hygienists can provide resources and support to help you kick the habit for good.

Weight fluctuations

Weight fluctuations, whether due to dietary changes or underlying health conditions, can indirectly affect your oral health.

Rapid weight loss diets often lack essential nutrients like calcium or vitamin D, both of which are crucial for maintaining strong teeth and bones.

Weight gain can increase the risk of conditions like sleep apnoea, which can disrupt sleep patterns and exacerbate oral health issues like dry mouth and gum disease.


Many medications can have adverse effects on oral health. Certain medications, like antihistamines and antidepressants, can cause dry mouth, reducing saliva flow and increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease.

If you’re taking medications that affect your oral health, it’s essential to let our compassionate team know. Our dentists and hygienists can offer personalised recommendations to help keep your smile healthy whilst you continue to take the medication that you need.


Stress is an inevitable part of life, but chronic stress can begin to take a toll on your body. When we’re stressed, we produce higher levels of cortisol – a hormone that can weaken the immune system and increase inflammation throughout the body, including the gums. Stressful situations may also lead to habits like teeth grinding, which can cause wear and tear on the teeth and jaw muscles.

Finding healthy ways to manage your stress, such as exercise or meditation, can help to protect your oral health.

stress and lack of sleep

Other lifestyle choices that can impact your oral health

Biting your nails

Biting your nails may seem harmless but it can wreak havoc on your oral health. As well as chipping and cracking teeth, it can also introduce harmful bacteria from your hands into your mouth, increasing the risk of infection and decay.

Brushing too hard

While thorough brushing helps to maintain good oral health, brushing too vigorously can actually do more harm than good. Aggressive brushing can erode tooth enamel and irritate the gums.

Using your teeth as tools

Your teeth are designed for chewing food – not for opening letters or tearing off clothing tags.

Using your teeth as tools can lead to chips and cracks, compromising your oral health and resulting in costly dental treatments.

Participating in contact sports without a mouthguard

Contact sports pose a significant risk of dental injury. Without protection like a mouthguard, a stray elbow or a wild ball can result in broken teeth and other injuries.

What lifestyle habits keep my smile healthy?

Brushing and flossing regularly

Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly helps to keep your smile healthy. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush. Don’t forget to floss daily to remove plaque and food debris from between your teeth and along the gumline.

Regular hygiene appointments

In addition to taking care of your smile at home, regular hygiene appointments contribute to maintaining good oral health.

During your visit to our Chatham practice, one of our caring hygienists will perform a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup, as well as assess your oral health and provide personalised recommendations for preventative care.

Common health conditions linked to oral health

Some common health conditions linked to oral health include:

Heart conditions

Research has shown a link between gum disease and an increased risk of developing heart problems. The inflammation and bacteria associated with gum disease can enter the bloodstream and contribute to inflammation, potentially exacerbating heart health issues.


Uncontrolled diabetes can impair the body’s ability to fight off infection and heal wounds, increasing the risk of gum disease and other oral health issues. Gum disease can also make it more challenging to manage blood sugar levels.


Depression can take a toll on oral health. Individuals with depression may neglect their oral hygiene or avoid routine dental appointments.

Lifestyle advice at Smil

At Smil, we recognise that each and every one of our patients is unique, with their own set of oral health needs and challenges. Our experienced team is committed to providing personalised lifestyle advice to help you achieve and maintain a healthy smile.

Tweaking your lifestyle for a healthier smile

Maintaining a healthy smile doesn’t require drastic changes. Small tweaks to your lifestyle can make a significant difference. With personalised guidance from our dental hygienists, you can begin to take small steps to protect your teeth and gums for years to come.

To book a dental hygiene appointment at our Chatham practice, please call 01634 756 536 today.

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Smil, Unit 69-70, Dockside Outlet Shopping Centre, Maritime Way, St Mary's Island, Chatham, ME4 3ED

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