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Dental Self Care: The Benefits and Challenges

A good first impression can make all the difference, especially when it comes to taking care of your teeth and gums. Not only will proper dental self care give you a beautiful smile and fresh breath to make you attractive to others, but it will also lead to a healthier life.

Provide Preventative Dental Care for Children

Unfortunately, many people in today’s struggling economy are finding it harder to afford regular visits to the dentist and, thus, are more vulnerable to the dangers of poor oral hygiene. Children from low-income families are especially at risk, as they are 50% less likely to receive dental care.[1] Preventive self care, however, can greatly reduce the costs involved when visiting a dentist.

Prevent Increased Risk for Disease

Poor oral hygiene not only leads to ugly teeth and foul breath, but can also cause serious health problems. There is growing evidence, for instance, that the common dental disease gingivitis increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.[2] A study from the Yale University School of Medicine also suggests that harmful bacteria from poor oral hygiene can cause pneumonia[3], which is why practicing proper oral self care is necessary for your well-being.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Making sure that you eat a healthy diet is the first step you can take to maintain oral health because foods rich in vitamins and minerals help teeth to become stronger and more resilient. More importantly, you should limit your intake of foods high in acid and sugar, as they are the main contributors to tooth decay and enamel loss. You can reduce the effects of these substances with drinking straws and by rinsing with water after consumption.[4]

Don’t Smoke

Smoking is perhaps the worst thing you can do to your mouth because the chemicals found in tobacco products not only cause bad breath and ugly teeth, but can also lead to oral cancer. The American Dental Association also states that smoking contributes to 75% of all periodontal diseases experienced by adults.[5] Since no tobacco product is safe from these risks, ending your nicotine fix once and for all is the only solution.

Proper Brushing

Proper brushing and flossing habits are the keys to successful dental self care because they greatly reduce the growth of harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, many people are inconsistent with this practice or use the wrong technique, which is why the following tips can help:

1. First of all, you should choose a toothbrush that fits your mouth correctly and has the right bristles. Your dentist or dental assistant professional can help you with this purchase.

2. Secondly, you should set aside enough time to brush each tooth and your tongue at least twice daily, and preferably an hour after every meal.

3. Lastly, make sure to replace your toothbrush regularly, as old brushes are less effective and contain harmful bacteria.

Regular Flossing

Flossing is the best defense you have against gingivitis, yet it tends to be skipped more than any other oral habit because many people have trouble with their technique. Fortunately, your oral hygienist or dental assisting professional can demonstrate proper technique. Using a dental pick can also help those who have trouble getting the floss between their teeth.

While practicing these oral self care habits does not eliminate your need to see the dentist, they can effectively prevent many kinds of dental diseases that lead to costly and painful procedures - making both your mouth and your wallet happy.

Author byline: Young writes on topics like health, media and movies.


[1] Gorski, Peter A. (Feb. 26, 2011). Preventive dental care imperative to children’s health, self-esteem. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved from < http://www.tampabay.com/news/health/preventive-dental-care-imperative-to-childrens-health-self-esteem/1153673>

[2] Mascarelli, Amanda. (July 01, 2011). Oral health affects risk for heart disease, stroke. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from < http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/01/health/hk-he-dental-health-overall-20110701>

[3] Alleyne, Richard. (Dec. 28, 2011). Bad dental health can lead to pneumonia, yale study suggests. The London Telegraph. Retrieved from < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8979191/Bad-dental-health-can-lead-to-pneumonia-Yale-study-suggests.html>

[4] CBS News. (Feb. 11, 2009). Beware effects of acid on teeth. Retrieved from <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/06/earlyshow/health/main3797213.shtml>

[5] American Dental Association. (1995-2012). How can tobacco cause periodontal (gum) disease? Retrieved from < http://www.ada.org/5170.aspx?currentTab=1#smokeless>

 
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