Twice daily tooth brushing and daily flossing has long set the standard for maintaining good oral hygiene. While American adults are gaining greater understanding of the importance of good oral health, many still place a low priority on their oral care at home. Only 57% of women brush their teeth twice a day and only 49% of men do so.
The oral health-whole health connection is getting better (and more deserved) press these days. For decades, research has revealed significant connections between the oral bacteria of periodontal disease and serious health problems. This infectious bacteria have shown links to heart disease, arthritis, some cancers and even preterm babies.
When it comes to our oral health, there are a number of misconceptions. One is that losing teeth is a normal part of the aging process. Yet, the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. is periodontal disease, which is not only preventable, it is one of the easiest of all diseases to prevent. It takes only minutes per day.
What much of the general public has yet to learn has to do with the damage of gum disease that extends far beyond the confines of the mouth. Through tears in weakened gum tissues, oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and trigger chronic inflammatory reactions.
As you keep your teeth healthy, having healthy gums can help lower your risk for systemic inflammation. So, while you enjoy a healthy smile, your whole body benefits with lowered risks for inflammation.
In addition to 6-month check-ups and cleanings, brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily are quick, easy and cheap ways to prevent cavities, gum disease and tooth loss.
Yet, like most of the actions we take, there is a right way to brush your teeth. Just wetting a tooth brush and running it over your teeth fails to get much accomplished. So, let’s review the steps that will give you the most from your time at the sink:
• Brush twice a day, in the morning and before bedtime with a medium or soft bristle toothbrush using a fluoridated toothpaste. Brush in a swirling motion on all sides of teeth, spending at least 2 minutes per brushing. Avoid pressing down so the bristles do not splay out. This makes brushing less effective and can wear down tender gum tissues around teeth.
• For those who have manual dexterity problems, such as arthritis sufferers, an electronic toothbrush can make it easier to reach awkward angles. Some models have a built-in signal that indicates when you’ve spend sufficient time on each ‘quadrant.’ This is each one-fourth section of your teeth — divided into two upper halves and two lower halves.
• Use several back-to-front swipes of a tongue scraper or use your toothbrush to go over your tongue thoroughly after brushing. Swish with water several times. Performed daily, this removes millions of bacteria embedded in the tongue.
• Floss your teeth daily. Don’t hesitate to ask us for a flossing lesson. Or, you may wish to try a water flosser. These are effective and easy to use. Once you are in the habit of daily flossing, the process, start to finish, will only require a minute or so of your time.
• Throughout the day, take measures to keep your mouth moist. Saliva is a natural rinsing agent. Insufficient amounts due to age or drying medications make you more susceptible to bacterial accumulation. If you take medications that have oral dryness as a side effect, drink lots of water, limit caffeine and alcohol, and use an oral rinse to supplement the moisture needed (available over-the-counter).
The minutes you spend each day to minimize oral bacteria levels in the mouth can help you save time and money by preventing problems from occurring in the first place. Too, you’ll be supporting your whole health!
Call 910-254-4555 if you’re due for a dental check-up. Once your mouth is healthy, it will be easy to maintain between visits.