Good Oral Health Habits and the Life of Your Teeth

The health and life of our teeth are in our control. Nothing earth-shattering or profound in that statement. Our oral health habits directly impact the life and use of our teeth. Good habits will extend their life and bad habits will shorten it.

Simple right?

Unfortunately, despite its common sense nature, this is often overlooked and ignored by many people.

In this article, I’d like to explore 5 common sense oral health habits we can and should all adopt to extend the life of our teeth.

What Can I Chew With My New Teeth?

I get this question a lot from patients. This week it came from someone who actually received 3 new teeth. She had been missing them for a while. Having tried various solutions over the years, nothing really worked. She came to me to see if I could help. She was a perfect candidate for new teeth which were a great replacement for what she lost.

After we discussed that she could really eat whatever she desired, she asked me if there were any restrictions. At first, I said “no, you have no restrictions” but then I thought of a news story that I saw recently.

The article was about Hailey Baldwin, known for her modeling and television career, who appeared on late night TV.  Jimmy Fallon, the host of the Tonight Show was interviewing her.

During the interview, she opened two bottles of beer with her teeth. Any dentist hearing about this would cringe. To make matters even worse, the host then commented,”You are the coolest person I’ve ever met.”

I can’t imagine how many of her fans will try this.  The result will be a good number of broken teeth and trips to the dentist. In my world, this is an activity that will lead to many tooth problems. Teeth are for eating food. This is an example of a behavior that will negatively impact our health.

A common sense study with profound implications

In the same vein there, was a study just published by Dr. Frank Hu who is chair of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Right now the average 50 years old can expect to live approximately 30-33 years according to the US government statistics. However, Dr. Hu found that practicing 5 habits could add approximately a decade to that number.

The habits are not crazy. In fact, you could probably figure these out yourself. 

The 5 Lifestyle Habits to Extend Life:

  • Not smoking.
  • Eating in a healthy fashion.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Maintaining a normal weight.
  • Drinking only in moderation.

Nothing is really earth shattering on this list. What is of great interest to the medical and scientific community is that we have the power and the ability to extend our own lives. Put in another way, we can live out our full lives and not cut it short with bad behaviors. The more great news is that not only are these people living longer, but their quality of life has improved markedly.

I would like to suggest that we could extend the life of our teeth if we follow good oral habits also.

I have my own 5 habits to help our teeth.

The 5 Oral Health Habits to Extend the Life of Our Teeth:

  • Use your teeth for what they were designed for – eating.
  • Replace missing teeth.
  • Fix broken teeth
  • Get your teeth checked and cleaned regularly.
  • Brush & floss daily

Using our teeth for things other than eating, like opening beer bottles with one’s teeth is akin to smoking.

Not fixing a broken tooth is akin to excessive drinking.

Not replacing missing teeth is akin to excessive weight.  

Not getting your teeth cleaned on a regular basis is akin to not exercising regularly.

Brushing and flossing are akin to eating in a healthful fashion.

These are all modifiable factors that will either extend or shorten the lifespan of our teeth. In many cases, they will allow us to keep our teeth throughout our entire lives. The health of our teeth is in our control.

If you are a regular reader of this column and have been considering putting emphasis on the care and health of your teeth, now is a great time to start.

Take my 5 Oral Health Habits to heart and call me. I can be reached at 400.951.7856. Talk to Megan and she will start you on the highway to better teeth. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jeffrey Gross, DDSFAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

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