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Oral Health Topic

A Window to your Overall Health

Most of us realize that diet and exercise play an important part in keeping us healthy. But did you know that a healthy mouth is also an important part of a healthy body?

Poor oral health can affect a person’s quality of life. Oral pain, missing teeth or oral infections can influence the way a person speaks, eats and socializes. Oral disease, like any other disease, needs to be treated. A chronic infection, including one in the mouth, is a serious problem that should not be ignored. Yet bleeding or tender gums are often overlooked.

Research has shown there is an association between oral disease and other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, respiratory illness in older adults, as well as pre-term and low-birth-weight babies.

5 Steps to Good Oral Health

As part of a healthy lifestyle and to help reduce the risk of oral disease, follow these 5 steps to good oral health.

  1. See your dentist regularly
    • Regular dental exams and professional cleanings are the best way to prevent problems or to stop small problems from getting worse.
    • Your dentist will look for signs of oral disease. Oral diseases often go unnoticed and may lead to or be a sign of serious health problems in other parts of the body.
    • Only your dentist has the training, skill and expertise to diagnose and treat oral health diseases and to meet all your oral health care needs.
  2. Keep your mouth clean
    • Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush to remove plaque and bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.
    • It is very important to floss every day. If you are missing about 40% of your tooth surface.
    • Your dentist may also recommend that you use a fluoride or antimicrobial mouthrinse after assessing condition of your teeth and gums.
  3. Eat, drink, but be wary
    • Always eat healthy food as it is good for your general and oral health. The nutrients that come from good food help you to fight cavities and gum disease.
    • Limit the consumption of foods and beverages that are high in acid and sugar. As sugar is the one of the main causes of dental caries and acid plays a role in causing dental erosion.
  4. Check your mouth regularly
    • Look for warning signs of gum disease such as red, shiny, puffy, sore or sensitive gums; bleeding when you brush or floss; or bad breath that won’t go away. Gum disease is one of the main reasons why adults lose their teeth.
    • Look for warning signs of oral cancer. The three most common sites for oral cancer are the sides and bottom of your tongue and the floor of your mouth. The warning signs for Oral cancer may include:
      • bleeding that you can’t explain,
      • open sores that don’t heal within 7 to 10 days,
      • white or red patches,
      • numbness or tingling,
      • Small lumps and thickening on the sides or bottom of your tongue, the floor or roof of your mouth, the inside of your cheeks or on your gums.
    • Look for warning signs of tooth decay. Possible warning signs include tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, sweetness or pressure. Report these signs to your dentist.
  5. Avoid all tobacco products
    • Smoking tobacco can cause staining of teeth, infected gums, tooth loss and Bad breath. Besides affecting your smile it can cause oral cancer, heart disease and many other problems. Smokeless tobacco such as chewing tobacco, snuff and snus can cause mouth, tongue and lip cancer and can be more addictive than cigarettes.
    • If you use tobacco products, ask your dentist and your family doctor for advice on how to quit.

If you take care of your teeth and gums at home and visit your dentist regularly, your smile should last you a lifetime. You and your dentist are partners in keeping your oral health good for life.

Your child’s First Visit

It’s important for children to visit the dentist early to ensure they are off to a good start with their oral health. The first dental visit is an extremely important step in a child’s life long oral health.

When should my child first see a dentist, and why? The ideal time for a child to visit the dentist is six months after the child’s first (primary) teeth erupt—and no later than his or her first birthday. This time frame is a perfect opportunity for the dentist to examine carefully the development of the child’s mouth. Because dental problems often start early, the sooner the child visits the dentist, the better. The dentist also can provide or recommend special preventive care to protect against problems, such as early childhood tooth decay, teething irritations, gum disease, and prolonged thumb- or pacifier-sucking.

How do I prepare my child and myself for this first visit?Before the visit, ask the dentist about the procedures that will take place during the first appointment so there are no surprises. Plan a course of action for any possible reactions your child may have. Veryyoung children may be fussy and not want to sit still. Others may become very frightened and cry. Some children may not react negatively at all. Some may enjoy the appointment very much!

Make the upcoming appointment something for your child to look forward to. Help your child understand what will happen during the visit. There are a number of children’s books about going to the dentist. Read these books with your child before his or her first visit to familiarize your child with what will happen at the dentist and help lessen any potential anxiety.

Also, be sure to bring records of your child’s complete medical history for his or her dental file.

What happens during the first visit?Often a first visit is simply a time to acquaint your child with the dentist and the practice. As a parent, you should reassure your child that the visit is not scary or something about which to be afraid. Short, successive visits can build the child’s comfort with the dentist and the dental office.

Your child’s appointment should be scheduled earlier in the day, when your child is alert and refreshed. You may need to sit in the dental chair and first visit usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes and may include any of the following, depending on hold your child during the first examination. The the child’s age:

  • A gentle but thorough examination of the teeth, jaw, bite, gums, and oral tissues to monitor growth and development and observe any problem areas;
  • A gentle cleaning, which includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar build-up, and stains;
  • X-rays;
  • A demonstration on how to properly care for your child’s mouth and teeth at home;
  • Nutritional counseling; and,
  • An assessment of the need for fluoride.

The dentist will be able to answer any questions you have and will make you and your child feel comfortable throughout the visit.

When should we schedule the next appointment?Children, like adults, should see the dentist every six months. When your child is very young, some dentists may schedule interim visits every three months in order to build the child’s comfort and confidence levels or for treatment needs. If you have questions about your child’s dental needs, please talk to your dentist.

Your Child’s Oral Health

Enchorage your child to drink tap water, as this water contain fluoride which makes entire tooth structure more resistant to decay.

To build self-confidence, enchorage the child to brush his or her own teeth when he or she is old enough. Always monitor the child’s brushing technique and thoroughness.

How can I protect my child’s oral health?To help prevent tooth decay, talk to your dentist and follow the tips below:

  • Clean your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after each feeding.
  • As soon as the first teeth come in, begin brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and water. If you are considering using toothpaste before your child’s second birthday, ask your dentist first.
  • To avoid teeth misalignment due to sucking, monitor excessive sucking of pacifiers, fingers, and thumbs.
  • Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juice, or sweetened liquids.
  • Avoid filling your child’s bottle with liquids like sugar water and soft drinks. Proper technique.
  • The best way to teach a child how to brush is to lead by good example. Allowing your child to watch you brush your teeth teaches the importance of good oral hygiene.

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