Our everyday life is far from sterile. Habits such as alcohol drinking, smoking, food choices, and stress levels tremendously influence our health and teeth. But how aware are people of these factors?
In a recent DentaVox survey, we researched the perceptions of 5551 people globally in regards to different myths and facts about various lifestyle habits’ impact on their oral health. Check out the analysis below to find out how respondents’ awareness compares to the experts’ opinions on matters such as:
Let’s see, shall we?
#1: Alcohol can cause dry mouth: FACT
The vast majority of DentaVox survey respondents (82%) correctly point out that dry mouth is one of the influences of alcohol consumption.
The American Dental Association (ADA) warns that, although among the most often forgotten side effects of alcohol, dehydration can be highly damaging to teeth. How is that? When your saliva flow decreases, bacteria are not washed away from your enamel and thus clings to it causing tooth decay. So make sure that every “Cheers!” is followed by a glass of water.
#2: Alcohol is better for teeth than coke as it contains less sugar: MYTH
Around one-third of survey participants think that alcohol is better for teeth than coke because of its lower sugar content. Well, if sugar content would be the only bad effect on teeth, then probably coke would fail against some low-sugar types of alcohol. However, it is not – alcohol damages teeth also by dehydrating the mouth, staining teeth and increase the acidity levels. Not to mention all the other bad effects on the body. Also, not all alcoholic drinks contain less sugar than coke – see the image below.
#3: Alcohol kills all bacteria and thus eliminates dental plaque: MYTH
Dental plaque is the sticky biofilm that builds up on teeth when bacteria stick to the teeth for long periods of time. It is usually removed through a decent oral hygiene routine and regular professional cleanings. But what if alcohol can do this job just as well? 22% of interviewees actually believe this.
Experts completely disagree on this one and warn that the typical alcohol-caused dry mouth leads to exactly the opposite effect due to insufficient saliva supposed to remove the bacteria from teeth.
#4: The only problem smoking causes to teeth is discoloration: MYTH
Now to the other bad lifestyle habit: smoking. How does it affect teeth? Is it only by causing them the well-known yellow color, or is there more to it? Although the majority of people (65%) believe that discoloration is just one of many bad effects, another one-third of respondents claim that this is the only impact one should worry about.
In fact, smokers are also three to six times more likely to develop gum disease which can inflame the tooth roots and cause teeth to fall out.
#5: The risk of oral cancer is higher in smokers: FACT
On top of the dramatically higher risk of getting gum disease, smoking may also lead to oral cancer. This is a fact well-known to 93% of DentaVox respondents.
As a matter of fact, all tobacco products – cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco – are major risk factors for oral and other cancers because all of them contain toxins and carcinogens.
#6: E-cigarettes cannot lead to gum disease: MYTH
What often confuses people are the “health benefits” of switching from standard to electronic cigarettes. In terms of gum health, DentaVox survey shows that 22% of interviewees believe that if you smoke e-cigarettes, you shouldn’t worry about gum disease.
Well, yes, there is no tobacco in e-cigarettes. But the vapor still contains nicotine, other chemicals, and heavy metals. The nicotine in these products can damage gums as well, and also reduces saliva production, resulting in bad breath, receding gums, and tooth loss.
#7: Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables protect against cavities: FACT
Foods with fiber are the best natural protection against cavities and gum disease after good at-home hygiene. They keep your teeth and gums clean and get the saliva flowing, says the American Dental Association (ADA).
This fact is correctly recognized for fiber-rich fruits and vegetables by nearly 80% of all survey participants. But it’s not only fruits and veggies that contain fiber – let’s see which are some of the most fiber-rich foods out there:
#8: Chocolate washes off the teeth easier than sticky candies: FACT
Is a person destined to have bad oral health if they have a sweet tooth? Well, not necessarily. Firstly, because the amount of sugar matters, and secondly, because there are sugary foods that are worse for teeth than others.
If we compare chocolate with sticky candies, for example, one main difference between them is that chocolate washes off the teeth much easier and faster. This fact is stated by the American Dental Association but clearly not so popular among the general public, as less than half of DentaVox survey respondents are aware of it.
So, repeat after us: When in doubt, go for a piece of dark chocolate instead of a lollipop.
#9: High levels of stress can lead to bruxism (teeth grinding): FACT
Stress is another lifestyle habit that tremendously affects your body, mind… and teeth. High stress levels are among the main causes of teeth grinding. And over 80% of interviewees are familiar with that.
Find your relaxation technique: be it listening to music, taking a warm bath, exercising, or meditating, it may reduce your risk of developing bruxism.
#10: Drinking a lot of liquids is good for teeth: FACT
In our fast-paced world, drinking water often falls down in the list of daily priorities. But it is the driver of our entire organism and its importance for teeth is well-researched and proven.
Drinking enough fluids prevents issues like bad breath, gum problems, and cavities as it dilutes the bacteria staying in our mouth after eating and drinking. Thus, as correctly noted by 72% of DentaVox survey participants, it is extremely important to keep yourself hydrated and rinse frequently throughout the day.
Which of those myths and facts were you aware of?
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Stats source: DentaVox, 20 Questions: Lifestyle Habits & Teeth
Base: 5551 respondents (global sample)