Extensive studies show a connection between oral health and overall health.
This is why Dental Insurance makes perfect sense to promote your health!
Dentist visits do more than keep your smile attractive – they can also tell dentists a lot about your overall health, including whether or not you may be at risk for chronic disease. Extensive research suggests that the health of your mouth is a reflection of the overall health of your body. In other words, when your mouth is healthy, the chances are your overall health is good, too. And vice versa, if your oral health is poor, it may indicate you have other health issues. Think of it as a canary in the coal mine.
Research also shows that good oral health may actually prevent certain diseases from occurring.
As with many areas of the body, your mouth is filled with bacteria and most of them are harmless. Good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, in conjunction with our body’s natural defenses, can keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper and good oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and periodontal disease. Medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants, can reduce saliva flow. Saliva helps to keep your mouth healthy by washing away food and neutralizing acids bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion that might lead to disease. Studies also suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, might play a role in some diseases. In addition, certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, exacerbating oral health problems.
What conditions may be linked to oral health?
- Endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis occurs when bacteria or germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread throughout your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
- Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
- Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Certain conditions also might affect your oral health, including:
- Diabetes. Diabetes reduces your resistance to infection, which places your gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people with gum disease have a more challenging time controlling their blood sugar levels, and that regular periodontal care can improve the ability to control diabetes.
- HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
- Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle and might be linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Worsening oral health is seen as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. Researchers have also discovered a link between P. gingivalus,(bacteria found in gum disease) and Alzheimer’s.
- Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, head and neck cancers.
Notify your dentist if you’re taking any medications or have had any changes in your overall health — especially if you’ve had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.
Preventive oral care is vital, in addition to visiting your dentist twice a year:
- Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks and sweets.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed.
- Regular dental checkups and cleanings.
- No smoking or chewing tobacco (a leading cause of oral cancer).
Also, contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arise. Protecting your oral health is an investment in your overall health.
Children’s Oral and Dental Care
Your child’s well-being is your biggest concern and their oral hygiene is an important part of their overall health. The care of your child’s teeth and gums begins with you.
Oral Hygiene for Infants
- Babies are born with all their teeth. Baby teeth start to break through the gums around 6 months but it is important to start good oral care for infants even before the first tooth comes in. From healthy gums come healthy teeth.
- Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after feeding. This helps remove the bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
- When their baby teeth start to erupt, brush them twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste in a tiny amount about the size of a grain of rice and use a soft-bristle toothbrush.
- Take the bottle away after your child finishes drinking to prevent baby bottle tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when babies drink milk, formula, or juice from bottles over protracted periods of time or if they fall asleep with their bottle.
- Schedule your child’s first dental appointment before their first birthday or after his or her first baby tooth is visible, whichever comes first. This visit is like a well-baby visit with your pediatrician.
Oral Hygiene for Children
Kids have all their baby teeth by the age of 3, which are their primary teeth. Baby teeth start falling out around age 6 and that’s when the permanent, or adult, come in to replace them. The spaces between baby teeth are normal as they make room for the permanent teeth. Most permanent teeth should come in by age 13.
Tips to help keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong (starting at age 3):
- Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and make sure your child spits it out after brushing
- Make sure your child brushes for at least 2 minutes twice a day
- Start flossing as soon as the teeth touch, or even earlier to build good habits.
- Help your child brush and floss, and remind him or her to pay attention to the back teeth.
- Visit the dentist every 6 months.
Oral Hygiene for Preteens and Teens:
As children grow older and more of their permanent teeth come in, a consistent daily dental hygiene routine is crucial to keeping teeth and gums healthy. It can be a challenge to keep preteens interested in their oral care.
Tips to keep your preteen on track with good oral health:
- As they become more conscious of their appearance, remind them that good oral care can help them look and feel better.
- Remind them to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for a full two minutes which, not only fights cavities and strengthens teeth, but gives older kids the confidence of having fresh breath and a healthy smile. A power toothbrush might make brushing more fun for preteens and really gets their teeth clean.
- Flossing is extremely important at this point because cleaning between their teeth will help prevent cavities and keep their mouth fresh.
- Encourage children who play sports to wear a mouth guard to protect their teeth from injuries.