Taking care of your teeth and gums can mean more than just a healthy looking smile. Good oral health can help reduce the chance of decayed teeth or gum disease, and the resulting unsightly and poor hygiene that follows. There’s also growing evidence of a connection between a healthy mouth and your overall health.1
It's easy once you understand the basic routines required to maintain good dental hygiene. Get started with some basic dental education and a thorough awareness of the steps that should and should not be taken toward great, long-term oral health.
Daily cleaning of your teeth, gums, and tongue, combined with annual check-ups helps ward off harmful bacteria and microbes that may cause tooth decay, bleeding gums, and oral infections. Proper oral hygiene is also important in helping you stay healthy, especially if you have risk factors such as diabetes2. Maintaining proper oral hygiene assures that you won’t experience embarrassing conditions, such as plaque, tartar, and bad breath. This is especially true for teenagers and adults who frequently interact with others at work or in social situations. It also lowers the need to treat dental problems that could otherwise be prevented.
Periodontal (gum) disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults3. Many adults experience significant dental problems that could be prevented through basic oral hygiene practices, like regular dentist appointments. For example, CDC data in 2014 indicated that only 62 percent of adults surveyed had visited the dentist4. To maintain optimal oral health, adults should brush their teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal and before going to bed. Flossing is also an essential part of an adult’s daily oral hygiene regimen. Regular brushing and flossing can prevent unpleasant conditions, such as plaque and bad odor. However, over-brushing or flossing may result in mouth bruises and bleeding, which can lead to infections.
Chronic inflammation from gum disease has been associated with cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, blockages of blood vessels, and strokes. While a cause-and-effect relationship between gum disease and these serious health problems hasn’t been proven, both share common risk factors but it’s not clear if one increases the risk of the other5. Diabetes also has a strong association with periodontal disease.2
Enforcing good oral hygiene habits early in a child’s life is essential for their overall well-being. Though they are temporary, baby teeth are important for a child to chew food, as well as help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a major cause of tooth loss in children is cavities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of cavities in children between the ages of two and five has escalated by 15 percent3.
Baby bottle tooth decay is a common problem for children getting their first set of teeth. Babies are more prone to tooth decay if they are put to bed with a bottle or given a bottle filled with sugary liquids, like juice or soda. Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles6.
While baby teeth should be cleaned using a washcloth, young babies should eventually have their teeth and tongues brushed using soft brushes. It is important for parents to teach children the proper way to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste, to take them for regular dental check-ups, and to serve foods that will help strengthen teeth. If children have poor diets, their teeth may not develop properly. They need protein, vitamins, minerals, especially calcium and phosphorous, to build strong teeth and resist tooth decay and gum disease. These can come from milk, cheese, and vegetables7.
Oral hygiene greatly affects overall long-term health, and promotes a more confident you. When it comes to dental care, prevention through daily cleaning and regular visits to the dentist’s office is better not only for your health, but for your budget. That's why it's important for parents to play a key role in reinforcing smart oral hygiene habits. Kids are likely to follow in the footsteps of those who set positive examples and will carry those healthy habits through their own adult lives. Remember, whatever your age, it’s never too late to take a serious stand in keeping your teeth healthy and your smile confident.
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* This information is for general educational purposes only. The information presented is not a guarantee or representation that the procedures are covered.
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