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Lifestyle factors affect oral health

You try to brush, floss and see your dentist regularly. But, if you smoke or skimp on sleep, your lifestyle choices could still be hurting your oral health.

Japanese researchers studied 219 factory workers in Osaka, Japan, who underwent health checkups in 1999 and 2003. Participants were examined for periodontal disease and completed a lifestyle questionnaire that asked about eight lifestyle categories: smoking, alcohol consumption, hours of sleep, breakfast, nutritional balance, working hours, exercise and mental health. They were also asked about their frequency of tooth brushing, their tooth brushing method and their use of interdental cleaners.

Smoking and getting less than six hours of sleep per night were the two most significant lifestyle factors that led to worsening periodontal health, researchers found, with ratios of 2.3 and 2.1, respectively. Data showed that 38.5 percent of periodontal disease progression could be attributed to current smoking.

"Our findings are in line with other studies that have identified smoking as a strong lifestyle factor affecting oral health," said Dr. Muneo Tananka, study author. "However, studies that have looked at hours of sleep as an independent factor affecting periodontal health are limited. From this study, we can speculate that shortage of sleep can impair the body's immune response, which may lead to the progression of diseases such as periodontal disease."

Smoking, they concluded, may suppress the host-defense system, which may promote periodontal disease progression.

The American Dental Association offers a wealth of resources to help smokers quit; visit "".

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