If your record is less than stellar at keeping New Year’s resolutions, 2016 may be the year to resolve to keep at least one — it’s vital to your health and well being as well as your appearance.
Resolve to maximize your oral health so that you end the year with as bright a smile as you begin it.
It’s Not Difficult
If you haven’t in the past thought much about your teeth and gums, 2016 might be the year to move your concern up a few notches. Medical professionals increasingly agree that overall wellness and the health of your mouth, teeth and gums are closely related. A bright smile is only part of it, of course, but it is only sensible to monitor your oral health, just as you pay attention to what you eat and try to maintain physical and mental fitness through proper exercise. Although the causal relationships are not as clear, there is irrefutable evidence that gum disease can be related to immune system disorders and inflammation, heart disease and other physical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and perhaps even some forms of dementia.
5 Steps to Better Oral Health
You’ve heard it since you were a child: Brush at least twice a day. There is really nothing better than brushing to maintain your teeth and gums. Especially as you age, brushing not only helps to remove that daily film of bacteria that accumulates on the surface enamel, but it also dislodges particles that become trapped along the gums and around older fillings in your mouth. Use a soft-or medium-bristle toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste, and brush for two-to-three minutes at least twice a day. We encourage brushing after each meal, if possible. Be sure to angle the bristles against inner and outer surfaces of both upper and lower teeth and brush along the gums as well. Don’t forget to finish by brushing your tongue.
Floss! A survey conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology reports that nearly 40% of people would rather perform other unpleasant tasks rather than floss. The fact remains, however, that flossing is the only way to effectively and routinely remove the plaque and decay-causing bacteria that build up between teeth and below the gumline. The preferred time to floss is before bed. Flossing is an important safeguard, along with regular checkups by your dentist, against gum disease which is a leading cause of tooth loss among older Americans.
Make — and keep — those regular dental appointments. The basic steps toward oral health are as painless as scheduling regular checkups with your dentist. Periodic examinations allow your trained dental professional to determine if there are any causes for concern. Regular sessions with a hygienist for the deep cleaning that supplements your daily brushing and flossing routine are an important component of regular care. For other concerns as well, including tooth whitening, straightening, cosmetic smile adjustments, replacement dentures, root canals, implants and dentures, scheduled dental appointments mean that you will not suffer the physical pain of toothache or the emotional pain of less than perfect teeth.
Improve your overall commitment to health. If you smoke, quit. Now. Not only does smoking stain your teeth, it is now confirmed that smokers have higher incidences of decay and gum disease, as well as other medical problems. Once you quit smoking, however, your oral health risks are substantially reduced. Both dentists and medical professionals can help you quit, by prescribing nicotine replacement therapies, including a type of chewing gum that has proven effective for many people. Again, the longer you smoke, the more serious your oral health complications may become. It is estimated that half of all smokers have periodontal issues, and the habit also increases the risk of oral cancer.
Eat well, but eat healthy. No one can dispute that a nutritious diet, plenty of sleep and proper exercise are good for both body and mind. There are specific foods, however, that are especially good for your teeth, among them calcium-rich dairy products and calcium/Vitamin D fortified juices. Cheese may be especially good for protecting tooth enamel from mouth acids because it bonds with plaque and “sticks” to the teeth to form a protective coating on the enamel. Some studies show that fresh cranberries work the same sort of “magic.” Additionally, foods high in antioxidants are good for the teeth and beneficial for overall health; raw vegetables and crisp fruits like apples, celery and carrots are natural tooth-cleaning aids and also help to freshen breath.
As years go by, though, it is important to watch for signs of aging teeth and potential gum problems. Always report any pain, sores, oral bleeding or gum discomfort to your dentist during that regular checkup. If you experience the sudden pain of toothache or you lose a part of a filling, call to make an appointment as soon as possible. Beyond that, however, it’s simply a matter of strengthening those habits you learned as a child.
At Briglia Dental Group, we have a continuing commitment to you: To help you face every day of the coming year with a smile by assuring that your oral health in 2016 is the best it can be. Why not call us at 610-692-4440 to schedule your first appointment of the New Year. It’s the best resolution you can make!