It is estimated that only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions and a whopping 80 percent fail by February. (https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail)
Although losing ten pounds or training to run a marathon may not be achieved by the end of the year, we’d like to suggest a “replacement resolution” that is easy to keep, takes mere minutes a day, and can save you much in time and money.
What, you ask, could this be?
The simple steps you take to maintain good oral health can pay off greatly by helping you avoid cavities and in the prevention of gum disease. As an added bonus, you’ll have a brighter smile, fresher breath, and even enhance your overall health.
How could good oral health improve your overall health?
The bacteria in our mouths can accumulate to the point where they can cause inflammation in gum tissues. This can cause the gums to become swollen, tender, red, and bleed easily when brushing.
If not treated promptly, this early-stage of gum disease (known as gingivitis) can progress to periodontal disease. In addition to attacking gum tissues and the bone that support teeth, this disease can weaken gum tissues and allow entry of infectious bacteria into the bloodstream.
Once bloodborne, the bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Research has shown it can increase one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm births, impotency, and some cancers. That’s pretty scary stuff – far scarier than a cavity.
By being committed to a good oral hygiene regimen at home and having dental cleanings and exams every 6 months, you can prevent cavities, gum disease, and even protect your overall health. And, it’s easy; perhaps as easy as making small adjustments to your existing routine.
Let’s look at your daily brushing habits. First, you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day, every day. And, it’s not just your brushing but in HOW you brush.
For example, you should use a soft or medium bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste with fluoride. Additionally, each brushing should last at least two minutes, even if using an electronic toothbrush.
But, it’s not just in the time you spend at the sink, but the technique you use. For example, you should brush all sides of all teeth, including the tops and backs. You should also brush near the gum line to dislodge oral bacteria that has gathered at the base of teeth.
Flossing your teeth is also important. This action dislodges food particles caught between teeth, which if left to rot, can provide fuel for more bacterial growth. Our hygienists can help you with the proper way to floss your teeth – comfortably! Ask at your next visit.
If flossing seems too difficult, consider using a water flosser. These have proven to be just as effective as manual flossing. Ask us about which brands are easy and affordable. (Hint: Most of them are!)
Many people do not realize what a hotbed of bacteria exist in the tongue, but it can house over 25,000 types of bacteria with over 700 species identified in its oral microbiome. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5585543/) This is why we recommend either brushing your tongue at the end of brushing teeth or using a tongue scraper.
A tongue scraper is often a flexible strip that you slide over the surface of the tongue, from back to front. Rinsing of the scraper is done after each pass. These are easy to use and take just seconds but the action can uproot millions of micro-organisms.
The goal is to minimize oral bacteria. You can help this further by keeping the mouth moist. Although saliva is designed to rinse bacteria and food particles from the mouth, it can only do so much. With today’s frequent snacking habits and our sugary, carb-laden diets, saliva flow is up against the odds.
You can aid saliva flow by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Colas, tea and coffee don’t count. They actually make things worse! Because these beverages contain caffeine, they can be drying to oral tissues, which depletes saliva.
Be sure to minimize sugar intake, alcohol consumption, smoking, and caffeine. At the very least, swish with water several times afterwards. Sipping colas or sucking on candy or mints containing sugar can place you at high risk for developing cavities and gum disease.
Your 6-month oral hygiene check-ups are structured so you are given a ‘clean slate’ of sorts twice a year. During this time, our hygienists remove plaque (a film of bacteria) and calculus (a hardened form of plaque) from teeth. They can also point out areas at risk to help you avoid further damage with instructions for effective at-home care.
Delaying or avoiding these twice-a-year dental visits can heighten your potential for tooth decay and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. This is unfortunate, especially since it takes mere minutes each day to avoid and is so inexpensive to do.
So, if you want a resolution you can easily keep and reap the rewards almost immediately. make it to have good oral health for 2019 and for the rest of your life! Our Summerville dental office can help! Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule a no-charge consultation to begin.