The Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing and flossing regularly can keep your teeth and gums healthy and your smile bright, but good oral hygiene benefits more than just your mouth. When you take care of your teeth and gums, you’re taking care of your whole body.

  1. Healthier Heart – Flossing keeps your gums healthy, but it can protect your heart as well. People with periodontal disease may have an increased risk of developing heart disease and may double their risk of experiencing a fatal heart attack. Gum disease can also lead to inflammation throughout the body, which is detrimental to your body and heart. On the other hand, healthy gums can contribute to a healthy heart.
  2. Healthier Pregnancy – Pregnancy can take a toll on a woman’s oral health, and starting off with healthy habits can protect you from the gum disease and increased cavities some pregnant women experience. Poor oral health may also increase your risk of delivering prematurely, so good oral hygiene is important for the health and safety of both you and your unborn baby.
  3. Improved Diabetes Management – If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to know that you may be more prone to gum disease. You should also know that gum disease may affect your diabetes by increasing your insulin resistance. This two-way link between diabetes and gum disease makes it extremely important to maintain healthy oral care habits.
  4. Early Cancer Detection – Dentists are trained to detect early signs of oral cancer in the gums, lips, tongue and cheeks, so a regular checkup can alert you to a potential problem while it is still in the early stages. Oral cancer can advance quickly, so early detection can be lifesaving.
  5. Weight Management – Brushing can signal to your brain that you are finished eating, preventing you from snacking once a meal is complete. Brush and floss about 30 minutes after meals to keep your teeth and gums healthy, but also to prevent overeating and mindless snacking between meals.

Dentists recommend that you brush and floss at least twice a day, and that you schedule a cleaning and checkup twice a year. By maintaining good oral hygiene, you protect your teeth as well as your health. 

Dental Care: Take Charge

Your teeth and mouth are an extremely important part of your body. If you don’t take care of oral health, you may experience a range of problems from difficulty and pain when trying to eat and talk to severe inflammation, infection, and even tooth loss. By adhering to a basic regimen, you enjoy a better chance of having healthy teeth for a lifetime.

Brush and Floss Your Teeth

Don’t forget to brush your teeth twice daily for at least two minutes. Take care to thoroughly target every surface, including teeth near the back of your mouth that are harder to reach. Use fluoride toothpaste and make sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months, and floss once a day.

Schedule Regular Dental Checkups

Ideally, you should visit a dentist regularly for professional cleanings, and more often if you cope with problems such as sensitivity, crooked teeth or excessive decay. During appointments, be sure to ask the provider if he or she has any specific suggestions for how you should best care for your teeth at home between appointments.

Instill Good Oral Health Habits

Proper dental care begins at a young age. Soon after your baby is born, wipe his or her gums with a soft cloth. That gets the infant used to having someone gently tend to his or her mouth. Then, once teeth begin to break through the gums, brush them gently with water and a baby-sized toothbrush.

Once a child is old enough, instruct him or her how to properly brush teeth and emphasize how important it is that the toothpaste gets spit into the sink rather than swallowed. Always just use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, so if any accidental swallowing does occur, there shouldn’t be any harmful consequences.

It’s also important that you set a good example for kids by brushing your own teeth well and visiting your dentist regularly.

Thanks to proactive measures like these, you can avoid many major dental problems and enjoy a beautiful and healthy smile for your whole life.

What You Need to Know About Bruxism in Children

If you ever check on your children at night, you may notice that they are grinding their teeth. The official medical term for teeth grinding is “bruxism,” it can be pretty common in children and often takes place during sleep or times of stress. According to statistics, two to three out of ten kids clench and grind their teeth and jaw, but a majority of them will eventually outgrow it.

Triggers for Bruxism

The exact cause of bruxism has yet to be determined, but there are cases where children grind their teeth because their bottom teeth are improperly aligned. Other stressful times, such as teething and earaches, can be reasons for kids to clench their teeth in an effort to ease the discomfort.

Children can also become stressed by a shift in a normal routine or due to exterior factors like after-school activities, tests, and assignments in school. A child can also suffer if parents are arguing around them, causing them to react by clenching their jaw and grinding their teeth. There are also situations where children who are on certain mediations or suffer from medical conditions, including cerebral palsy, start to show signs of bruxism.  

Effects of Bruxism

A majority of children who develop bruxism do so without any negative effects and do eventually outgrow the condition, but there are instances where it can cause earaches or headaches and be an annoyance to family members and those around the child because of the sound of grinding teeth.

There are also situations where the child can clench or grind his teeth so much that he starts to wear away at tooth enamel, chip a tooth, experience sensitivity to temperatures and/or develop major jaw complications and facial pain. One example of jaw problems a child might suffer from because of bruxism is temporomandibular joint disease, otherwise known as TMJ. Unless and until bruxism becomes a chronic condition, it generally will not become TMJ.   

If your child has developed bruxism, make an appointment with your dentist to have them checked today. 

Possible Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

There are few things that are more important to your health than checking for signs of cancer. With any type of cancer, early detection is crucial. With oral cancer, detecting the signs and symptoms early can be life-saving. There are a few key symptoms to look for when checking for oral cancer.

White or Red Lesions

There are two types of lesions that your need to be on the lookout for. White lesions, also called leukoplakia, and red lesions, sometimes called erythroplakia, are both clear indicators of oral cancer. Red lesions are more likely to be cancerous, but white lesions are more common. If you notice any of these lesions that do not go away within two weeks, consider getting a biopsy to determine if they are cancerous or not.

Lump or Thickening of Oral Soft Tissue

If there are any lumps in or around your mouth or if something is more swollen than it typically should be, notify your doctor. This can be one of the signs that something may be wrong. Any issue like this that lasts longer than two weeks could be a potential indicator for oral cancer.

Difficulty Chewing or Swallowing

If you have any difficulty chewing or swallowing, this could be an indicator for oral cancer. This is one of the many signs that something could be wrong. Other symptoms can include sore throat, ear pain, any difficulty moving your tongue or jaw and numbness. You should be on the lookout for these symptoms regularly, although you will probably notice them right away. If they persist longer than two weeks, make an appointment to address the issue with your doctor.

Early detection of any cancer is paramount to your health. Regularly check for these and any other common or possible signs and symptoms of oral cancer. It’s also important to take steps toward reducing your risk for developing oral cancer. Reducing sun exposure, quitting smoking and eating enough fruits and vegetables are all possible ways to lessen your cancer risk.

Why Oral Health is Important for Your Children

Although oral health is important at every stage of life, it is particularly important to establish proper oral habits in children that will serve as an ongoing investment in their health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, cavities and untreated dental decay are the most common diseases affecting children, outpacing even asthma and hay fever.  It is recommended that children start seeing a dentist as early as one year of age.

Disease Detection

In addition to checking a child’s tooth development, early visits allow the dentist to check for signs of oral cancer or gum disease. There is also a correlation between caries (another name for cavities) in baby teeth and subsequent development of caries in the permanent teeth.

Primary Dentition

Your child’s dentist will make sure that your child’s primary teeth are coming in properly. These teeth, which precede the permanent teeth, start erupting as early as six months of age. While they do eventually fall out, primary teeth are important for developing chewing skills and learning to speak properly. The primary teeth also serve as markers for the proper alignment of the permanent teeth so it’s critical that they remain healthy throughout a child’s development.

Permanent Teeth

Your child will start developing his or her permanent teeth starting from about the age of 6. The dentist will want to ensure proper spacing and gum health as these teeth come in. He will likely discuss your child’s diet with you, as this is an important component of tooth enamel development. Since the permanent teeth will be with your child for a lifetime, it is particularly important that good oral health habits are established at an early age.

What You Can Do

One of the most important things you can do for your child’s oral health is to model good oral health behaviors. Establish and follow good habits yourself, such as brushing and flossing daily and visiting the dentist regularly, and emphasize the importance to your child. Children are great imitators. If you model with enthusiasm the good habits you want your child to adopt, your child is much more likely to copy what you are doing.