Oral health refers to the general health of your mouth and most notably your teeth. It is an indicator of overall health and quality of life. It encompasses a range of diseases and conditions that include dental cavities, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth loss, oral cancer, oro-dental trauma, and birth defects such as cleft lip and palate.
Practicing good oral and dental hygiene can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. It can help you keep all your teeth as you grow older! Good oral hygiene and dietary habits have been shown to be essential for overall physical and emotional well-being throughout life.
The flip side of good oral hygiene can see you getting not only dental cavities, gum disease but has even been linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a lifelong commitment.
Adult oral health
You can keep your teeth for your lifetime. Here are some things you can do to maintain a healthy mouth and strong teeth.
- Use fluoride toothpaste and drink fluoridated water.
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth properly twice a day and floss daily to remove dental plaque.
- Visit your dentist at least once a year. Even if you have dentures!
- Do not use any tobacco products.
- Limit alcoholic drinks.
- If you have diabetes, work to maintain control of the disease. This will decrease risk for other complications, including gum disease. Also, treating gum disease may help lower your blood sugar level.
- If you are on medication that causes dry mouth, ask your doctor for a different medication that may not cause this condition. If it cannot be avoided, drink plenty of water, chew sugarless gum, and avoid tobacco products and alcohol.
- See your doctor or a dentist if you have sudden changes in taste and smell
Cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases to affect children. These little holes can cause pain and infection. In turn, these can lead to problems with daily life – eating, speaking, playing and learning.
You can wipe the gums with a soft cloth twice a day. After the first feeding of the day and right before bed. This removes bacteria and sugars that can cause cavities.
When baby teeth appear, start brushing twice a day with a soft, small-bristled toothbrush and plain water. Consult with a doctor before using fluoride toothpaste.
It may sound very early but visit the dentist by your baby’s first birthday to spot signs of problems early.
Luckily, cavities are preventable. Children who brush daily with fluoride toothpaste will have fewer cavities, similarly those with fluoridated tap water also have fewer cavities. Dental sealants can also prevent cavities for many years. Applying dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth prevent 80% of cavities.
If your child is younger than six, watch them brush. Make sure they use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and always spit it out rather than swallowing it. Help your child brush until they have good brushing skills.
Risk factors for cavities
Everyone who has teeth is at risk of getting cavities, but the following factors can increase risk:
- Tooth location.
- Certain foods and drinks.
- Frequent snacking or sipping.
- Bedtime infant feeding.
- Inadequate brushing.
- Not getting enough fluoride.
- Younger or older age.
- Dry mouth.
- Worn fillings or dental devices.
- Eating disorders.
It’s also extremely important to clean your tongue. Benefits include:
- Reduces sulfur compounds that cause bad breath
- Reduces bacteria on the tongue
- Contributes to a fresher-feeling mouth
- Reduces plaque