If you’re like the millions of Americans who start off the new year with a resolution, you may want to include improving your smile. Did you know that your oral health can affect the rest of your physical body? It can also offer clues to other physical ailments. Let’s take a closer look.
Your mouth is filled with bacteria. While most of the bacteria are harmless, some of them are not. Therefore, it is so important to protect your mouth, the gateway to your digestive and respiratory tracts. Daily brushing and flossing do a good job at keeping bacteria under control. However, if you don’t brush and floss twice a day, the bacteria in your mouth could reach dangerous levels leading to oral infections and even tooth decay.
Experts from the American Dental Association say that oral bacteria and inflammation associated with periodontitis or “gum disease” can play a role in the spread of disease throughout your body. In fact, diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower your body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe. Bad oral hygiene may also contribute to the worsening of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, even Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s important to let your dentist know whenever you are taking medications for a chronic illness. Medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines, decongestants and pain killers, reduce saliva flow in your mouth. Saliva works to neutralize acids produced by bacteria in your mouth, helping to protect you from other bacteria which multiply and can cause to disease.
If your holidays include a glass of red wine or coffee, remember your favorite drinks could stain your pearly whites. Here’s an easy home remedy that can help reduce surface stains on your enamel. Dip your toothbrush bristles in a small amount of baking soda. While baking soda doesn’t taste great, gently brushing your teeth using the baking soda can help wipe away some of the yellow surface stains left behind by the coffee or wine. Using baking soda alone to brush your teeth frequently is not recommended by most dentists since it can wear away tooth and gum tissue over time. Occasional use is okay.
Here are a few tips to ensure a great smile in 2020:
Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush
Use fluoride toothpaste
Floss every day
Use mouthwash to wash away food particles left behind after flossing
Eat foods low in sugar
Replace your toothbrush every three months and after you are sick
Schedule dental checkups and cleanings every six months
Avoid tobacco use
Most Medicaid and commercial insurance plans cover two dental cleanings annually (assuming your dentist accepts insurance). Be sure to take advantage of your insurance benefits each year. Preventive care helps to ensure that you will avoid expensive dental repair bills down the line. Access Health Louisiana’s newly renovated dental unit offers routine cleanings, fillings, sealants, restoratives, crowns and bridges. Patients don’t have to have insurance to get treatment. To find out more or make an appointment, call toll-free 1-866-530-6111 or log onto accesshealthla.org and click on “services”.