A Day to Appreciate Your Healthy Teeth and Gums
Anyone who’s ever shied away from bad breath instinctively knows the importance of good oral hygiene. But we don’t see our own teeth much, so it’s easy to let them slip out of sight, out of mind, when other things in life demand your attention. Well, here’s an opportunity to give a little thought to your oral health.
March 20 is World Oral Health Day, the perfect time to remember just how important good oral health is, for everything from self-esteem to its impact on your overall health, not to mention your ability to enjoy eating and everyday activities without pain.
Here’s a great guide, Mouth Smart provided for World Oral Health day that shows you how easy it can be to take care of your dental health.
The Downsides of Poor Dental Hygiene
Everybody knows that feeling of dread that comes when the dentist starts an exam by saying “Well, you’re going to need…” It’s equal parts fear for ourselves — after all, there’s no escaping the reality of having someone drill away at your teeth when it’s happening right in your face — and fear for our pocketbooks. The financial struggle is real: Americans spend some $110 billion every year on oral care, a cost that could be greatly reduced if we all did regular preventive care and reduced our risk factors for oral disease.
As tempting as it might be to put off fillings or other restorative care until they become an emergency, consider this: In extreme cases, oral disease is associated with everything from pain and anxiety to disfigurement and poor quality of sleep, and it can even interfere with your ability to do everyday tasks like eating or speaking. If you’ve suffered at toothache, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, 27% of adults and 17% of children have untreated cavities in their teeth, a problem that, left untreated, can lead to loss of the tooth.
Flossing and brushing after every meal will go a long way to keeping your teeth and gums healthy. As many dental hygienists say, “Only floss the teeth you want to keep.” But just in case that’s not enough motivation to keep that smile nice and bright, consider this: Oral health is an important indicator of your general health and well-being. It’s no coincidence that the same risk factors that cause oral health problems (tobacco use, harmful alcohol use and a poor diet, especially if it’s rich in sugar) also elevate your risk of developing conditions like heart disease, stroke, cancer and chronic respiratory problems. And poor dental hygiene allows harmful bacteria to enter your body, which can lead to heart disease and other major health problems.
The Good Side of Oral Health
Now, the flip side: When you have the privilege of showing off a bright, healthy smile to the world, it’s impossible not to feel good about yourself. Social interactions become easier, because you’re not worried about letting people see your teeth. Your immune system doesn’t have to struggle against persistent inflammation or infections. You won’t have to worry about pain when you eat or drink.
Just make time for regular preventative dental care. Make it a habit to eat a healthy diet that’s low in sugar. Floss daily, and brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. With those simple habits, you’ll save money on dental care that you won’t need. But perhaps the most importantly of all, you’ll have the use of your teeth for many years to come.
So thank your teeth and gums on Monday March 20th, World Oral Health Day, for all they do for you, and remember to be good to them from now on!
Dr. Medina is a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). Advanced General Dentistry, with a practice in Las Vegas Nevada since 1988. He offers general and family dentistry, with a specialization in cosmetic and restorative dental services.