Practicing good oral hygiene is the key to maintaining good overall health, especially as we get older. In recent years, bacterial inflammation involved in gum disease has been linked to chronic health problems such as stroke, coronary artery disease and premature, low birth-weight babies. About half of people over 35 years old have some form of gum disease. Our doctors and hygienists take great care to identify and treat gum disease early to keep you and your mouth healthy.
There are a number of things you can do to help protect your smile and your overall health. Visiting your dentist regularly, at least twice a year, allows us to thoroughly clean your teeth and recognize any potential problems early (i.e. cavities, gingivitis, etc.) before they becom more serious. Dental exams give us insight on whether our patients are getting proper nutrition, maintaining a proper oral hygiene regimen and whether there are any growth or development problems.
Here are some helpful tips to ensure you are practicing good oral hygiene at home:
- Brush at least two times a day using a fluoridated toothpaste
- Floss daily, preferably before bed
- Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet
- Avoid smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco products
By following the above steps, you can help prevent common problems such as cavities, gingivitis, gum disease, as well as more serious diseases that affect your overall health like oral cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Innumerable studies and research have concluded that the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care is great. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child's health, well-being, self-image, and overall achievement.
The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and have about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Because this can lead to such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children's oral health a priority.
Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child's life – as early as infancy. The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:
- Thoroughly cleaning your infant's gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
- Gently brushing your baby's erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a very small-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste (about the size of the tip of a small match).
- Brushing twice daily for your child starting when their first tooth comes in until around age 8.
- Flossing daily for your child starting when they have two teeth that touch until they are adept at tying their own shoes.
- Teaching your child about proper brushing and flossing techniques, and letting them practice both until the above mentioned ages.
- Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the baby teeth and for possible developmental problems, starting at six months after their first tooth appears or by age one.
- Helping your child to view dental visits in a positive light, as something that could be fun! If they have happy easy visits over and over, dental phobias and fears may never impact their lives.
- Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words like "pain" or "hurt," since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child's thought process.
- Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with your dentist or hygienist.
- Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child's back molar teeth- on the chewing surfaces. And about baby-bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids or milk.