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3 Health Habits that May Be Contributing to Tooth Decay

Dentist in Chicago

Research shows that taking proper care of your teeth has implications for overall health. Studies have shown a link between gum infections and health issues like complications with diabetes and heart disease. Similarly, your overall healthy lifestyle habits can improve your dental health. For example, appropriate nutrition contributes to strong teeth and enamel. But some seemingly healthy habits, if not managed properly, could actually be causing tooth decay.

Consider working out regularly, staying hydrated, and loading up on vitamin C. All three are part of a healthy lifestyle, right?

It may not be so black and white. The way you’re practicing these habits may actually be undermining your efforts by wearing away the protective enamel of your teeth and leaving them exposed to decay. Keep the following practices in mind to make these three habits support both a healthy body and a healthy smile.

Working Out Regularly

  • The Problem: Sticking with your workout goals offers both physical and mental health benefits, and your body and mind will thank you for it. But what about your teeth? Athletic activity can lead to dehydration and, in turn, decreased saliva flow. This can be detrimental because saliva helps wash away harmful bacteria, neutralize acids, and re-deposit minerals that build and strengthen your tooth enamel.
  • Your Solution: Keep up the good work in your physical fitness, but also keep your mouth healthy by drinking plenty of fluids during and after workouts.

Staying Properly Hydrated

  • The Problem: It’s tempting to fight dehydration by downing sports drinks loaded with added electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. These electrolytes increase the absorption of fluids into the bloodstream and are lost when you sweat, so replenishing them quickly seems ideal. But many sports drinks are high in sugar. Sugar combines with the bacteria in your mouth to form acid that ultimately eats away at your tooth enamel.
  • The Solution: Hydrate properly by drinking low-sugar or sugar-free sports drinks, or even by sticking to water and replenishing lost electrolytes through foods high in those nutrients.

Loading Up on Vitamin C

  • The Problem: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that prevents scurvy and helps the body absorb iron, among other benefits. But be aware of overdoing it. Foods high in vitamin C are sometimes also highly acidic (think citrus, like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons). It is possible to have too much of a good thing in this case. Repeated and prolonged exposure to highly acidic foods can lead to enamel erosion. Even some supplements, like chewable vitamin C tablets and fizzy vitamin C powdered drinks, have been shown to increase the risk of erosion by exposing your teeth to high concentrations of acid.
  • The Solution: Keep your intake of acidic fruits and fruit juices to a minimum, and get your vitamin C through food rather than highly acidic supplements when you can.

When considering healthy lifestyle practices, be mindful of the effects your habits may have on your overall health, including your teeth.

Regular checkups will allow your dentist to assess the status of your oral health and raise any red flags. Contact Oradent Associates in Lincolnwood today to schedule your next checkup.

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