Your teeth are unique to you. So unique, in fact, that no two people’s teeth are the same – even for identical twins. For years, detectives have been able to use dental records to occasionally identify human remains due to this fact.
An important part of being an adult and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is taking care of your pearly whites. After all, once you lose your baby teeth, you only have one set of permanent teeth to last an entire lifetime, so it’s important to keep them as healthy as possible. Plus, who actually likes getting their teeth drilled into for cavities and other procedures? It’s better to just nip it in the bud and take care of your teeth on a daily basis, the right way.
National Dental Hygiene Month is celebrated in October, which means that before you get too deep into all the candy corn and pumpkin spice lattes, remember that taking care of your teeth is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Let’s start by going over some basic tips to keep your teeth healthy.
Tips for Happy, Healthy Teeth
Who doesn’t love a good, sparkling smile? While having a good set of teeth is appealing physically, it’s also easy to forget how useful our teeth are for daily functions, such as eating and chewing food. And after enduring a painful toothache, there’s nothing more to make you truly appreciate having healthy teeth.
It’s very important to keep your teeth healthy, and here are a few steps on how to make that happen:
- Visit Your Dentist Routinely: To some, visiting the dentist can be a scary thought and it’s easy to just avoid it; however, visiting the dentist roughly twice a year (or every six months) for a cleaning is crucial to keeping your teeth healthy
- Flossing is Key: When you hear your dentist telling you to floss, it’s for an important reason; flossing is a great way to combat cavities that may form in between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach; every day, twice a day, you should brush your teeth, floss and then rinse with mouthwash
- Avoid Sticky Snacks & Sugary Drinks: This tip is hard to accept, especially during the month of October when our favorite candies and holiday drinks come around; however, if you do decide to treat yourself, try to brush your teeth directly afterwards or at least rinse with water; by doing this small step, you can greatly take steps towards healthy teeth
- Other Teeth Problems: Be on the look out for other problems that you notice, such as grinding your teeth during your sleep or maybe your gums are bleeding too much while you brush; these are things that should be taken up with your dentist as they could lead to more detrimental consequences, such as gum disease or destroying your teeth
By making an appointment and going to the dentist routinely, you can ensure a road to healthier and happier teeth. But it’s important to realize that having a clean, happy smile doesn’t just stop with you – it’s important for your children and family as well.
Dental Hygiene Importance for Children
One of the biggest mistakes that parents can make is thinking that non-permanent, baby teeth aren’t worth taking care of because they’ll fall out anyway. In fact, the number one dental problem among preschoolers is tooth decay.
Following the same steps above for healthy dental hygiene is a great tool for children as well. However, for parents, teaching your children good dental habits early is essential to them maintaining proper dental health as they grow older.
So, how early should your child start learning proper dental etiquette? As soon as the child has a tooth, you should be helping him or her learn how to brush their teeth (or tooth) twice a day with a tiny bit of toothpaste. Toothbrushes are made in all different shapes and sizes to accommodate children of all ages. Also, by the age of 3, you can start using pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste, which can help against cavities.
Similar to adults, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of sugar intake with children for their physical health as well as for their teeth. The longer and more frequently your child’s teeth are exposed to sugar, the greater the risk of encountering a cavity.
While your child should receive a regular check-up from the pediatrician on how their teeth and gums are performing, it’s typically a good idea to see a pediatric dentist by age one.
Taking care of your teeth from an early age is a good way to start healthy habits that you can continue into your adult years. And speaking of being an adult, did you know that you dental hygiene is tied to your overall health? It’s a lot more important than you think!
How Dental Hygiene is tied to Your Overall Health
There’s a big connection between your oral health and your overall health, according to research at the Mayo Clinic. Interestingly enough, your mouth is full of bacteria, which can on occasion cause diseases to enter through your digestive and respiratory systems. With good, proper dental hygiene, you can typically keep the bacteria under control and safely at bay from entering your system. With bad dental hygiene, however, oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease, could pose a potential risk to your health.
It’s believed, according to scientific studies, that oral bacteria and inflammation that are associated with gum disease could add fuel to the fire to certain diseases. Some diseases that can lower the body’s resistance to infection, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can make it even harder to deal with oral health problems once diagnosed.
Here are some diseases and conditions that could be impacted by your oral health:
- Endocarditis: This infection happens on the inner lining of your heart chambers and happens when bacteria or other germs from a part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream
- Cardiovascular Disease: Although not much is known about the connection here, research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke could be linked to inflammation and infections that derive from oral bacteria
- Pregnancy and birth complications: Periodontitis, which is a serious gum infection, has been linked to premature birth and low birth weights among newborns
- Pneumonia: By having an oral infection of any kind, certain bacteria could potentially be pulled into your lungs, which can cause pneumonia and other respiratory diseases
If you experience any worrisome signs or symptoms of gum disease or an oral infection, be sure to contact and make an appointment to see your dentist. And remember, by taking preventative steps to ensure good hygiene, you can better help your overall health. Let’s also not forget the dental hygienist professionals who work tirelessly to ensure we get to keep our pearly whites for a long time.
Professional Dental Hygienist Appreciation
Hopefully by now, you’ve established a local, family dentist who has a team of professionals that see you and your family every six months or so. Each professional dentist group should have a Dental Hygienist, who works to meet the oral health needs of the patients.
During National Dental Hygiene Month, it’s important to notice and appreciate all those who work diligently to keep us healthy so that we can live long, happy lives.