For Goodness Sake, Go to the Dentist!
Author: Michele Rolla
I don’t know about you, but a good, hearty laugh and a big and wide, toothy smile can be a wonderful mood booster. That smile can be your own or someone else’s. Think about a time that may have felt like you started the day by getting out on the wrong side of the bed, and then in one instant, something or someone made you smile. The act of smiling or being the recipient of one’s smile can instantly change your day.
However, without making our overall health and well-being a priority we won’t be smiling.
Much like many aspects of good health, preventive care is key. In general, those who are unable to or do not have access to preventive care and effective treatments can be at a greater risk of disease.
“Oral health refers to the health of the teeth, gums, and the entire oral-facial system that allows us to smile, speak, and chew. Some of the most common diseases that impact our oral health include cavities (tooth decay), gum (periodontal) disease, and oral cancer.
More than 40% of adults report having felt pain in their mouth within the last year, and more than 80% of people will have had at least one cavity by age 34. The nation spends more than $124 billion on costs related to dental care each year. On average, over 34 million school hours and more than $45 billion in productivity are lost each year as a result of dental emergencies requiring unplanned care.
Oral conditions are frequently considered separate from other chronic conditions, but these are actually inter-related. Poor oral health is associated with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Oral disease also is associated with risk behaviors such as using tobacco and consuming sugary foods and beverages.
Public health strategies such as community water fluoridation and school sealant programs are safe and effective interventions proven to prevent cavities and save money.” (1)
Unfortunately, so many people go years without seeing their dentist. The following is something to think about before blowing off your next visit.
“Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease (periodontitis) might play a role in some diseases. And certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.”
“What conditions can be linked to oral health?
Your oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:
• Endocarditis. This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
•Cardiovascular disease. Although the connection is not fully understood, some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
•Pregnancy and birth complications. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
•Pneumonia. Certain bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.” (2)
Whoa, that’s a lot to take in. Sounds like your dentist should be your new BFF! Let’s break it down to a few less scary, baby steps.
First off, fear of dentists is real and dentists are fully aware. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to address your fears. Rest assured, dentists will put your feelings first.
Believe it or not, dentistry practice is safe and gentle. Their state of the art techniques and medications keep you as comfortable as possible.
Oral health starts at home. Follow these daily steps at home and your visits to the dentist can become less fearful and hopefully limited to twice a year.
- Brush your teeth. Twice a day and choose a toothbrush with soft bristles. Use a new toothbrush every 3 months.
- Floss your teeth. Before or after brushing, it’s your choice.
- Use mouthwash after brushing and flossing. Mouthwashes help to remove any remaining food particles that may have been left behind.
- Do your best to maintain a healthy diet.
Of course, always reach out to your dentist with any unusual oral pain or symptom. Make an investment in yourself and your smile, you’re worth it!