Professional dental exams and a regular homecare routine do more than keep your mouth clean – they might save your life!
Taking care of your mouth, teeth, and gums is essential to your overall health and can prevent cavities, periodontal disease, and infections while lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke. As an added bonus, you get to keep your natural teeth as you age!
A regular home care routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing combined with periodic professional exams and cleanings are the best way to keep your teeth. It also helps prevent life-threatening illnesses and diseases.
Research shows that 90% of systemic diseases, including heart disease, also have oral symptoms. So a clean, infection-free mouth gives you an extra layer of protection.
Here are some ways to make your home care routine as effective as possible:
- Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle where the tooth and gum meet, and brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day.
- Brush all the surfaces of your teeth, including cheek side, tongue-side, and the chewing surfaces.
- To brush the tongue side of your front teeth, hold the toothbrush vertically and use small, short strokes.
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue!
- Floss at least once a day.
- Use an ADA-approved mouth rinse to remove biofilm and bacteria that are missed by brushing alone. Use an alcohol-free version to prevent drying out your oral tissues.
- If you can’t brush, grab the gum! Chewing a piece of sugarless gum for 20 minutes after you eat can help neutralize acids and increase saliva flow to rinse away food particles.
It’s also important to remember that professional exams and cleanings are just as important as a dedicated home care routine.
During a professional oral exam and cleaning, your hygienist and dentist don’t only check for signs of decay. The color of your gums and oral tissue, the amount of plaque buildup, gum overgrowth, and other issues can alert your dentist to potentially life-threatening conditions.
Professional cleanings remove plaque and tartar below the gum and in-between teeth. However, even the most meticulous home care requires the help of a hygienist! Using special instruments, your hygienist can reach places a toothbrush can’t.
Skimping on homecare and forgoing a regular dental exam can also put you at risk for developing or worsening cardiovascular problems. Periodontal disease is an active infection in the gum tissue. Left untreated, you risk bone and tooth loss. If the infection enters your bloodstream through an open wound in your mouth, you could be at risk for severe cardiovascular problems such as endocarditis. Endocarditis is a rare infection in the lining of the heart chambers and valves caused by bacteria spreading through your blood and sticking to already damaged areas of your heart.
Oral health has many facets, and each piece is as important as the other. By creating and sticking to a daily routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing combined with professional dental cleanings, you can help keep your teeth and body healthy for the rest of your life.