Teeth are an essential piece to individuals getting vital nutrition. Without teeth, we would not be able to enjoy a lot of the foods that we eat. Have you ever thought about how well you take care of your teeth? Many of us can still hear our moms in the back of our heads nagging us to brush our teeth before bedtime. But sadly, there are many people that are skipping out on the necessary measures that need to be taken when it comes to oral health.
Fluoride is a paste that the dentist often uses on our teeth right before we leave the dentist's office, but only getting fluoride at the dentist's office is not enough. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests drinking water that contains fluoride.1 If you want to know if the water that you are drinking contains fluoride, this CDC website will help you find out.2 They also suggest using toothpaste and mouth wash that contains fluoride.1 When you are at the grocery store, look for labels that state fluoride as one of the ingredients. Be careful of which brands you choose, as fancy labeling and fancy words don't always mean quality toothpaste or quality mouth wash.
According to the CDC the "baby boomer" generation is the first generation to maintain a healthy mouth over a lifetime. One of the reasons we have a healthier mouth is regularly seeing a dentist.1 Delta Dental suggests that people with good dental hygiene see the dentist once or twice a year. If you have poor dental hygiene, you will need to see the dentist more often. Dental visits can be expensive, but in some cases, your employer will offer dental insurance as part of a benefits package. If you do not have the opportunity to get dental insurance, the Augusta Regional Dental Clinic offers full service dental care that operates during normal business hours. They are also willing to help those that cannot afford expensive dental services. The Augusta Regional Dental Clinic understands the importance of oral health, and they work hard to make it easily accessible for those that need it.4
Smoking cigarettes and using smokeless tobacco effects your oral health. Tobacco products can cause oral cancer, tooth loss, and gum disease to name a few. By stopping the use of these products, you can reduce your risk of these things by 50%.5 If you are unsure of where to start in the process of quitting smoking, speak to your physician about help aids. Augusta Health has a smoking and tobacco cessation program, currently being restructured. Contact Dana Breeding below for a quit tobacco help packet. Drinking alcohol can have negative effects on oral health, as well. Drinks that contain acids, such as citrus based drinks, can eat away at the enamel of the teeth. Without enamel, our teeth cannot defend themselves from plaque and gingivitis. Drinks such as beer will stain your teeth and dry out your mouth. A dry mouth causes cavities, because saliva is needed to remove bacteria.7 Removing tobacco products and alcohol from your life will not only improve your oral health, but it will also improve your health overall.
Information provided by Emily Campbell, student intern with Community Outreach at Augusta Health. To contact Dana Breeding, RN, related to the information in this article or with questions/comments/concerns, please call (540) 332-4988 or (540) 932-4988.