Healthy teeth start with healthy habits. The simple oral care habits that are part of your daily routine actually go a long way towards protecting your teeth and gums against a range of preventable dental problems. Taking care of your teeth requires only a few basic tools and a little know-how.
Protect Your Mouth Against Plaque
Gum disease (gingivitis) is cause in part by the plaque that builds up on your teeth near the gum line. This hard layer is formed by bacteria which flourish in the food particles that should be cleared away with brushing. Over time, the layer of plaque causes the gum line to recede. Your gums might feel swollen and tender or might bleed slightly after brushing. These are a few signs that plaque is starting to win.
An scientific article published just three years ago sheds some light onto the way that bacteria have adapted to respond to the dental care products we use every day. According to Yale researchers, the bacteria and fluoride fight as a result of the bacteria switching on specialized chemical defenses. These defenses can prevent the fluoride from doing its job. As a result, you might not be getting the full range of cavity-prevention benefits from your toothpaste. Removing the bacteria is best accomplished by removing the plaque that stimulates their growth.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Even though daily dental care habits will go a long way towards preventing gum disease, regular checkups with your dentist will help ensure a lifetime of good oral health. During your checkup, your dental care team will:
- Remove the tough layer of plaque that has built up since your last cleaning
- Check for cavities and places where cavities might develop
- Identify any chips or cracks that need repairing
- Provide personalized guidance to help you care for your teeth
Dentists recommend that their juvenile and adult patients see them for checkups and cleaning twice a year. This will help prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria.
Everyone wants to have a healthy mouth and beautiful smile, but what exactly does it mean to have good oral health? Some individuals may think that a beautiful smile can be attributed to healthy teeth, but in some cases teeth whitening products can make a smile appear healthy even when it is not. If you are not certain what it means to have good oral health or what steps you should take to improve the health of your mouth, here is a brief definition of what oral health entails.
What does “Oral” mean in Oral Health?
The word “oral” has Latin roots that refer to the entire mouth; not just the teeth. This means that a person who wants to improve their oral health should focus on all of the tissues in the mouth, including the tongue, chewing muscles, teeth, gums, lips, and connective tissues. Based on this definition, oral health is achieved when all of the various structures in the mouth are taken care of and are free from painful conditions.
In addition to gingivitis and tooth decay, other conditions that affect oral health include:
- Soft tissue lesions in the oral area
- Pharyngeal and oral cancers
- Cleft palate
- Cleft lip
- Other painful oral diseases or conditions
Why is Oral Health So Important?
The health and scientific communities are continuously discovering links between oral health and other dangerous physical conditions, such as:
- Premature births
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
If you are concerned about the health of your body in general, you should also be concerned about improving your oral health. In addition to being linked to various physical ailments, poor oral health can also make it difficult for individuals to eat, drink, and converse with others.
How can I Improve my Oral Health?
You can take matters into your own hands and improve your oral health by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, rinsing your mouth with mouthwash, eating a healthy diet, and receiving regular dental checkups.
It’s that time of year again, when everyone starts thinking about what they are going to do better this year than they did last year. If you’re like the majority of the population, you have set a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape and eat healthier this year. While most people set this resolution as a way to lose weight, did you know eating a healthy diet is also one of the best things you can do for your oral health?
The Effects of Poor Nutrition
When you eat an unhealthy diet, it affects your body in a myriad of ways, increasing your risk of chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, and weakening your immune system. With these chronic illnesses and a weak immune system, you also have a higher risk of developing gingivitis, gum disease, and other oral health complications.
Since your mouth is the first point of contact for food and drinks that go into your body, sugary treats and drinks can also increase your risk of developing cavities and gum disease, and regularly eating unhealthy foods can cause inflammation or chronic conditions that contribute to poor health overall.
On the flip side, eating healthy foods that are high in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, can improve your immune system and protect your mouth from disease. According to the American Dental Association (www.ada.org), studies show a correlation between people who have lost teeth or wear dentures and those who don’t eat as many fruits or vegetables or tend to have less nutritious overall eating habits.
Partner with your Dentist
Your dentist is one of the best resources to help keep your mouth healthy and identify tips for healthy eating, especially since your mouth is one of the first places where signs of a poor diet are detectable. A great way to begin your “healthy diet” New Year’s Resolution is with a visit to your dentist. Go for a cleaning and check-up and ask your dentist to help you identify ways that you can improve your diet in order to improve your oral health.
Scheduling regular cleanings and check-ups with your dentist at the recommended six-month intervals may also help keep you accountable all year for your resolution to eat healthy. The Dental Clinic at Roseman University offers affordable dental care in the Salt Lake valley for people who don’t have a dentist or haven’t been to the dentist in a while because they lack insurance.
For tips on what to eat, resources such as MyPlate from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (www.ChooseMyPlate.gov) can help you discover a balanced diet consisting of fruits and vegetable, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
This year, set your resolution to eat healthier, and develop a plan to follow through. Your body, and your mouth, will thank you.
Over the years, there has been a significant amount of debate over alcohol and non-alcohol mouthrinses. Some companies claim that their mouthwash is superior because it contains alcohol that is capable of killing stubborn bacteria in the mouth, while other companies claim that their mouthwash is superior because it does not contain drying alcohol. Consumers are stuck in the middle of this battle and have a difficult time deciding whether it is better to purchase mouthrinse with or without alcohol.
Some individuals are advised to stay away from mouthrinses that contain alcohol for the following common reasons:
Individuals in these groups may choose not to use a mouthrinse at all because they may be under the impression that mouthrinses without alcohol are not as efficient as mouthrinses with alcohol. However, a recent study compared the efficacy of alcohol and non-alcohol mouthrinses and yielded surprising results.
The Efficacy of Alcohol-Free Rinses Is Comparable to Alcohol-Containing Rinses
The study compared two different mouthrinses without alcohol to a mouthrinse with alcohol. Patients were divided into four groups:
• Group A was instructed to brush their teeth and rinse with an alcohol-free rinse
• Group B was instructed to brush their teeth and rinse with an alcohol-containing rinse
• Group C was instructed to brush their teeth and rinse with both an alcohol-free and alcohol- containing rinse
• Group D was instructed to only brush their teeth
Surprisingly, the study results showed that the alcohol-free mouthrinses were able to reduce gingivitis and plaque at a rate that was comparable to the alcohol-containing mouthrinse. Because the test results showed that there is no reduced efficacy in alcohol-free mouthrinses, it is recommended that individuals choose alcohol-free mouthwash brands over those that contain alcohol.
Improve Your Oral Health Without Alcohol
Individuals who want to improve their oral health and the scent of their breath without the negative effects of alcohol can now rest assured that alcohol-free rinses are just as effective as those containing alcohol.