June 17, 2011

Healthy mouth

mouthCaring for Your Mouth

Basic dental care involves brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, seeing your dentist and/or dental hygienist for regular checkups and cleanings, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, which means foods high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and dairy products. Oral health is strongly related to overall health. The mouth is the gateway to the body. Basic life activities—like talking, smiling, tasting, chewing, laughing and swallowing—depend on oral health, which influences overall health. And what we put into our mouths—food, drinks, medications and tobacco products—impacts our overall health and well-being.

Oral health includes:

- Upper and lower jaws
- Gums and the tissues in the mouth
- Linings in the mouth and throat
- Tongue
- Chewing muscles
- Roof of the mouth
- Lips and salivary glands

Keeping Your Mouth Healthy

Today’s hectic lifestyle may seem to leave little time for good dental care. Regular brushing and flossing helps prevent tooth decay and cavities, prevents gum (periodontal) disease and bad breath, keeps the teeth white and free from stains, and saves money (by reducing the need for fillings and other costly procedures). Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Good daily oral care makes the trip to the dentist easy and pain-free. With proper dental hygiene, your teeth will last a lifetime.

Brush Up On Your Brushing Technique

- Always select a SOFT brush, and brush your teeth twice a day.

- Replace your brush every 3 to 4 months. If you are sick, replace your brush when you feel better. Thousands of microbes grow on toothbrush bristles and handles. Most are harmless, but others can cause illnesses or infections, like colds, influenzas, cold sores and periodontal infections.

- You may also use an electric toothbrush that has the American Dental Association seal of approval. Studies suggest that powered toothbrushes with a rotating and oscillating (back-and-forth) action are more effective than other toothbrushes, including other powered toothbrushes. In addition, if you have a habit of brushing too hard, using an electric toothbrush might be a good option for you.

One Minute to a Healthier Mouth

When it comes to healthy habits, let’s face it…some of them are time-consuming. But flossing is not one of them.

Flossing only takes about 60 seconds. Who doesn’t have an extra minute or two in their day? Floss at least once a day. The type of floss you use is not important. Choose the type and flavor you like best. A plastic flossing tool makes flossing easier. If your gums bleed when you floss, the bleeding should stop as your gums become healthier and tighter next to your teeth.

If you’re not in the habit of flossing, challenge yourself to make the time every day. It’s a small change that makes a big difference in the long-run of your oral health. And when it takes so little time, what’s your excuse?

Keep Your Teeth for a Lifetime

Regular dental visits—every six months or as scheduled by your dentist or dental hygienist—will help you learn more about proper care for your teeth and gums. Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums for signs of tooth decay, gum disease and other health problems. Gingivitis (the early stage of periodontal disease) and other abnormal conditions in the mouth are often painless, so you won’t detect them on your own.

If you have dental care coverage, check your plan to learn more about your benefits. Most dental care options encourage good dental hygiene by paying for preventive care, as well as a wide range of other dental services. Schedule regular visits for you and your eligible family members and see your dentist every six months. Start children out early to learn about proper dental care and establish healthy habits to ensure lifelong oral health. Experts recommend that your child’s dental care start at 12 months of age.

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