Years ago, caring for your oral health wasn’t much of a priority. People recognized that unclean teeth would age and decay over time, but there was no connection between an unhealthy mouth and other diseases. Now we know that lack of dental care can lead to gingivitis, diabetes, heart and lung disease, stroke, premature births, cancer, and so much more. Caring for our teeth has greater benefits than a bright smile. It affects every other aspect of health.
Even though we now know that not caring for our teeth can lead to all of these illnesses, the majority of Americans simply take their oral health care for granted. They believe that all of the negative symptoms of poor oral health will happen to someone else. But no one is immune, and it’s important to help patients and the community recognize the negative effects and what they should be doing to prevent this “silent epidemic” that’s all around them.
Follow Dental Regulations
Besides brushing and flossing twice a day, it’s important that patients go to the dentist at least twice a year for regular cleaning and preventative work. This is the single most effective thing patients can do to prevent dangerous conditions and fill cavities before they cause major problems.
What’s more, patients are encouraged to use products approved by the American Dental Association. Toothpastes, mouthwashes, dental floss, and other products should have the ADA seal of approval for best results. The ADA has made it their mission to improve oral health across the nation. They’ve put extensive research and testing into their products, and dentists endorse these standards.
Diet Is King
Most patients are aware that too much sugar, soda, or citrus can cause tooth enamel to break down. But many don’t realize that the foods they eat can also affect the physical structure of their teeth, and even prevent decay. When it comes to improving the physical makeup of your teeth, some foods are much better than others.
Protein: The high phosphorous content in protein foods strengthens enamel. Chicken, fish, and red meat are all excellent sources of protein. Avoid frying these meats or overcooking them so they don’t lose nutritional value. Beans, legumes, and nuts are also great sources of protein.
Vegetables: The vitamins and minerals in vegetables, particularly leafy greens, are essential for strengthening bones and teeth. They’re also good sources of healthy carbohydrates, which can strengthen the jaw.
Fruits: It’s true that too much citrus can harm the enamel of your teeth, but small amounts can actually help your body absorb the vitamins necessary for oral health. Interestingly, kiwis contain the most vitamin C of any fruits, and vitamin C helps fight bacteria and prevent periodontal disease.
Dairy: Milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in both calcium and phosphate, which prevent cavities and gum disease. The dairy balances the pH levels in the mouth, killing bacteria and preserving enamel.
Water: Water isn’t exactly a food, but it’s extremely important for overall health and wellness. The right amount of water each day can help wash away stuck particles. Water also helps gums stay hydrated and aid in saliva production.
Many parents believe their children don’t need to visit the dentist until they’re at least a few years old. However, that’s a mistake. Baby teeth appear between four and seven months, and if they aren’t properly taken care of, the child is just as susceptible to decay and diseases as an adult.
The ADA recommends that a child’s first dental visit should be approximately six months after they cut their first teeth. As they grow, their teeth should be brushed and flossed every day, and sweets and sugary drinks should be limited. Early prevention is key. Otherwise, your child will end up as one of the 17 million children that doesn’t have proper oral care in the United States, and join the 50 percent of young teens that suffer from tooth decay as a result of poor dental hygiene.
Countless studies and research show that oral health is as important as every other aspect of health and should be treated as such. Health care professionals are encouraged to help dentists spread the word about the negative effects of poor oral hygiene and encourage patients to take action against tooth decay and affiliate illnesses.
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