The month of May brings lots of things to celebrate. From birthdays and anniversaries to graduation, family/friend reunions, and Mother’s Day, there are plenty of reasons to smile. May is also National Dental Care Month. Granted, dental care may not be as exciting as the celebrations mentioned, but the health of our teeth help us enjoy them a little more.
Did you know that good dental health has many benefits? Start with your smile. The act of smiling can help reduce your blood pressure and reduce pain and stress. Additionally, smiling also increases your endurance and helps strengthen your immune system. When you smile, your brain releases hormones, including serotonin. Plus, a nice smile is a great confidence builder.
In order to have that great smile, it’s important to take care of your teeth and gums. When was the last time you had a refresher on good oral care?
According to the American Dental Association, regular home oral care is important for the well-being of your teeth and gums. In order to help prevent gingivitis and cavities, you should brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. You should spend about four seconds per tooth brushing, which is about two minutes for your entire mouth.
Just as important as brushing your teeth is flossing them. In dental terms, this is called interdental cleaning. It takes just a few minutes and helps eliminate food particles that may be caught between your teeth. How often should you floss? Once a day is sufficient.
Why should you brush and floss? It helps prevent periodontitis, which is an infection of the gums and bones that surround your teeth. If this progresses, then you can ultimately lose your teeth.
Another step you can take to keep your teeth and gums healthy is a healthy diet. Limiting the consumption of sugary beverages and snacks not only promotes good oral health but also offers general health benefits. However, if you do consume a sugary beverage or snack, it’s best to brush your teeth 10 minutes after you’ve finished.
The use of tobacco products in all its forms are proven to have many health consequences, and you can add dental health to the list. Tobacco usage causes enamel discoloration (the protective coating on your teeth), gum erosion and oral cancer. An additional destructive oral habit is in the form of oral piercings. While oral piercings are popular, they can also cause dental damage, including tooth fractures and wear as well as gum deterioration.
Taking just a few minutes each day to take care of your teeth will allow them the opportunity to take care of you. ¦
— Dr. Susan Anderson is the program director for the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program at Hodges University.