While most people dread going to the dentist, it is important to get checked once every six months. It’s not just about teeth cleanings and x-rays, as dentists are able to tell a lot about your over-all health, including if you are at risk of a chronic disease. However, if you already have some dental issues, it is recommended to see your dentist every 3 to 4 weeks.
Poor oral health can lead to health problems
If you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, your poor oral hygiene can actually lead to other health problems, including:
- Oral and facial pain. According to the Office of the Surgeon General, this pain may be largely due to infection of the gums that support the teeth and can lead to tooth loss. Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, and advanced gum disease affect more than 75% of the U.S. population.
- Problems with the heart and other major organs. Mouth infections can affect major organs. For example, the heart and heart valves can become inflamed by bacterial endocarditis, a condition that affects people with heart disease or anyone with damaged heart tissue.
- Digestion problems. Digestion begins with physical and chemical processes in the mouth, and problems here can lead to intestinal failure, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.
What can you do to prevent any major issues?
Seeing your dentist regularly can help in keeping your teeth and gums in tip top shape, and also allows your dentist to keep an eye out for anything that may point to other health issues. With dental exams, they are able to check for poor hygiene and nutrition, and even improper jaw alignment.
There are also ways you can practice good at home oral care:
- Brush twice a day for at least two minutes, using fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach.
- Eat a healthy diet to provide the nutrients necessary (vitamins A and C, in particular) to prevent gum disease.
- Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, which are known to contribute to gum disease and oral cancer.
Behaviors that Contribute to Poor Oral Health
Teaching children from a young age why oral health is important is critical to helping them maintain their well-being throughout their lives. Parents should help children understand the importance of oral hygiene in daily life and develop good oral hygiene habits, including brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits, beginning when their first teeth appear.
But while poor oral hygiene is a leading factor in oral health issues, other behaviors can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease, and eventually, tooth loss. An unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol use, and tobacco use are all associated with dental health problems. A lack of access to quality dental care is also blamed for poor oral health. According to the ADA, only 30% of Millennials see a dentist regularly, with many citing financial challenges and a lack of insurance as barriers to dental care.
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