Focus on Oral Health: Time to Brush Up on Oral Care Basics
March 20 is World Oral Health Day, and during the month of March, it is a good time to discuss what we can do personally to keep our teeth and our mouths healthy. Oral health is extremely important, not only from the standpoint of maintaining healthy teeth, but also to prevent other serious health conditions that often originate in the mouth.
In recent years, researchers have identified numerous conditions that are linked to poor oral health. These include cardiovascular disease, endocarditis, diabetes, osteoporosis, various immune disorders, and even Alzheimer’s disease. By making oral health a priority, you can help prevent the onset of these types of conditions.
Maintaining good oral health is not all that complicated. It mainly involves establishing good habits and sticking to them. Here are some habits you should make part of your routine to help ensure that your mouth stays healthy:
Brush your Teeth at Least Twice Daily
Most of us have been told repeatedly since we were kids to brush and our teeth regularly in order to prevent cavities and keep our teeth healthy. Dental professionals recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day; once in the morning when you get up, and once before you go to bed at night. If you are able to fit it into your routine, it is never a bad idea to brush a third time, perhaps after lunch.
The majority of us do brush our teeth every day, but not all of us do it properly. The Mayo Clinic has published a comprehensive guide to help us with this. Here is a summary of what they recommend:
- Use proper equipment, which includes a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. You may also want to consider an electric or battery-operated toothbrush to help reduce plaque buildup;
- Practice good technique by brushing gently and at a slight angle;
- Keep your equipment clean by rinsing your brush after each use and storing it uncovered in an upright position;
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.
Floss your Teeth at Least Once a Day
One area many of us fall short in is flossing our teeth. Your dentist probably reminds you of this every time you go in for a cleaning, but it is easy to forget about it after we leave their office. Flossing is important, because we are not able to get out all the food particles (that get caught between our teeth) by brushing alone. Floss at least once a day; the best time is at night after you brush your teeth and before you go to bed. It is also a good idea to rinse your mouth out after you floss with a fluoride-based mouthwash.
Limit your Sugar Consumption
Consuming too much sugar in our food and drinks can be damaging to our teeth and our overall oral health. Do your best to limit (or eliminate if possible) soft drinks, candy bars, and other foods with high-sugar content from your diet. Excessive sugar consumption is not only bad for your mouth, it is also a major risk factor for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain.
Limit Alcohol and Tobacco Use
Drinking too much alcohol puts you at risk for numerous conditions, including gum disease, tooth decay, and cancers of the mouth (due to the high-sugar content and acidity in many alcoholic drinks). Tobacco use is also a major risk factor for mouth cancer and other various health conditions.
Visit your Dentist every Six Months
Regular dental visits are extremely important for maintaining your oral health. You should see your dentist at least every six months, not just for regular cleanings, but also to get checked out for any other problems that may be developing.
Promoting Oral Health in the Workplace
Oral health plays a major role in maintaining a healthy workforce. Providing dental benefits to your employees is a good start, but it is also a good idea for employers to educate their employees about the importance of oral health. Speak to your benefits provider for more details about how you can help your employees get the most out of their dental benefits and promote a happier and healthier workforce through better oral health.