Dental HealthPrint Page
Oral health is more than having a pretty smile. While many of us want a beautiful mouth of perfect, pearly whites, having healthy teeth and gums is an important factor in your overall health. A neglected mouth could not only result in teeth full of cavities and cracks (OUCH), it can also result in lost teeth, gingivitis, gum disease, oral cancer, and more. When you typically think of health ailments, typically your mouth is the least cared-about part of your body. For many, dental health is not a priority and many are not going to their dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Surprisingly, even those with dental coverage are not using their benefits to their full potential. Your teeth and gums are a bigger factor of your health than you might know.
Why it’s smart to go:
You might be brushing and flossing daily in hopes to avoid going to the dentist, but the truth of the matter is, you should go twice a year for a cleanings and checkups regardless. If you are doing a great job in your dental routine, the dentist visit will be a breeze and nothing to worry about. However, even those who are poster children for how to maintain a healthy mouth can fall prey to gum disease, gingivitis, and other health concerns.
Fact is, many of us don’t take the time to brush after every meal, or even twice a day. Most of us are lucky if we floss a few days a week, let alone every day! We don’t watch the foods we eat, and if you’ve never been to a dentist, you might not even be brushing your teeth properly. To make matters worse, genetics plays a huge role in oral health and even those of us with the best habits can suffer from cavities, cracks, and failing teeth.
Going to the dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups is smart because it gives your mouth a deep cleaning, and allows the dentist to examine you for any issues. They check for cavities, gum disease, gingivitis, grinding, alignment, oral cancer and more. It’s more than just a thorough cleaning, it’s a look into your health and how your dental routine is helping you avoid a more expensive, painful, possibly deadly future. Recent studies have begun to show that those with gum disease are more at risk for heart disease, stroke, or heart attack. Though the evidence is not yet conclusive, maintaining a healthy mouth is a good way to lessen the risks, which are increased if you are overweight, are diabetic, smoke, or already have high blood pressure.
Five Steps for a Healthy Smile:
- Go to the dentist! You already know why it is important to go, so schedule that bi-annual cleaning and checkup today and get started.
- Brush more than once a day: It is recommended to brush after every meal, but if that is not possible, at least brush once in the morning and again once before bed.
- Floss daily: Flossing not only gets food particles out from in between your teeth, it also gets where your brush can’t go. Flossing takes a minute or two to do, so there is no excuse! Get it done.
- Watch what you eat: sugars and acids eat away at your tooth enamel. If you eat lots of these foods, make sure to brush afterwards, or at least rinse your mouth with water. Also, crunchy foods help aid with cleaning, and make sure to chew on both sides of your mouth. Sounds silly, but some of us have a favorite side to chew on which causes the other side to be more sensitive and susceptible to infections.
- Kick those bad habits: Smoking and chewing tobacco are well known to cause cancer, stain teeth, and also aide in the destruction of your teeth and bones.
Signs to Look For:
Other than going to the dentist for your regular checkups, you should definitely see a dentist if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold
- Your gums are puffy and/or they bleed when you brush or floss
- You have fillings, crowns, dental implants, dentures, etc.
- You don’t like the way your smile or teeth look
- You have persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- You are pregnant
- You have pain or swelling in your mouth, face or neck
- You have difficulty chewing or swallowing
- You have a family history of gum disease or tooth decay
- You have a medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, eating disorders or are HIV positive
- Your mouth is often dry
- You smoke or use other tobacco products
- You are undergoing medical treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy or hormone replacement therapy
- Your jaw sometimes pops or is painful when opening and closing, chewing or when you first wake up; you have an uneven bite
- You have a spot or sore that doesn’t look or feel right in your mouth and it isn’t going away.
How to Find the Right Dentist:
Going to the dentist can be a daunting task for many people. Maybe you haven’t been in a long, long time and your nervous, maybe you don’t have coverage, or maybe you’ve had a bad experience in the past. Finding the right dentist and dental team can make all the difference in your experience. Here are some tips to help you find the right dentist and feel at ease for your next visit.
- Ask friends and family that you trust for a recommendation. Listen to their stories and see if any of their dentist’s sound like the perfect match for you. Also, use Yelp to see what others had to say. Reviews are a great way to see if you will have a positive experience.
- Don’t base your visits off cost alone! Some dentists might be very affordable, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll have a good experience. The same goes the other way; the increase in cost doesn’t mean better service. Base your dentist off a combination of good reviews, cost, location, and your comfort.
- If possible, go in to the location and schedule. Ask if you can meet the dentist really quick and see if you feel like they are a good match for your needs.
- Use the links in the resources tab below for more help on this topic.
So, now you’ve found the perfect dentist, but what next? To make sure your experience continues to go positively:
- Speak up and tell your dental staff that you are nervous. Explain to them your reasons and let them know you chose them very carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to let them know during any procedures if you are experiencing pain.
- If you have a procedure, try to take your mind off it. Most dentists have a TV, so choose a channel that can take your mind away from the moment. I personally like the travel channel. No TV? Ask if you can wear headphones and listen to calming music.
- Use mindfulness techniques to relax. Deep breathing is a great way to calm the body. Try to breath in deeply for a 4 count, hold for 7, then exhale for an 8 count. Continue to do this until you feel more at ease.
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