Oral Health in the New Year

With Christmas 2016 in the books, many have now set their sites on the New Year, and with it the resolution(s) they hope to set and keep. The most common ones, quitting smoking, losing weight, and getting more exercise, can be challenging to make part of your everyday routine.  But there is another resolution that has multiple health benefits and could even save your life, all without a ton of major lifestyle changes.  Some industry leaders believe that oral health resolutions can have a profound impact and change your life forever.

Many people want to improve their health and immediately vow to eat better, move more, and kick the nicotine habit for good. Few people think to take care of their teeth to improve their life, when in fact, studies show that people who pay attention to their oral health actually live an average of about six years longer than those who don’t.  Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in most adults, and it has been linked to severe health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and preterm births, to name just a few.  Your oral health is actually a huge indicator of your overall health, and it’s doesn’t take much to take care of your teeth.

Edward Camacho, a veteran cosmetic dentist, recommends six easy steps to better oral health.  The first is one that you’ve heard for as long as you can remember; brush your teeth at least twice daily.  And because your toothbrush can’t clean between your teeth effectively, the second step is to floss regularly too.  Both can be done in just a few minutes a day.  You should also have at least two professional cleanings a year.  Not only will the hygienist clean pockets that can easily be missed, but she can also screen for larger issues that you may be unaware of.  Preventative dentistry is crucial in saving your teeth and your dollars.  It is much cheaper to visit your dentist annually for a checkup than to pay for major dental procedures.  Your dentist will also screen for diseases, such as oral cancer, during an annual visit.  When caught early, oral cancers can have up to a 90% survival rate.  The fifth step may help with other health resolutions you have, which is to watch your sugar consumption.  Sugars can dissolve the protective enamel on your teeth, making it very detrimental to oral health.  Be sure to rinse your mouth after consuming sugary foods and beverages.  And finally, take care of your smile.  Replacing missing teeth not only will improve your self-esteem, but it will also prevent further damage to your gums and jaw.

Millions of Americans avoid visiting the dentist because of dental anxiety, or fear of dental procedures. If you’re one of them, I urge you to look into sedation dentistry, a practice that is much more common than you probably think. Another reason a lot of people skip the dentist is because they think they can’t afford it. Dr. Camacho argues that in many cases, this isn’t true.   According to him, people who splurge on coffeehouse drinks just a couple of times a week are spending more money than getting their teeth cleaned and checked semi-annually.   Whatever the reason, there are ways to overcome the obstacles. Committing to improve and maintain your oral health is a worthwhile endeavor.  This is a resolution you can and should stick to.

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