Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you. Taking good care of your mouth gives you more than a bright smile. A healthy mouth is important for our overall health, too. Good oral health can help reduce the risk of serious health problems like heart attack and stroke. Yet, cavities and gum disease are common chronic health issues for both children and adults in the United States.

Luckily, almost all oral diseases, including cavities and gum disease, are preventable. With a good daily hygiene routine and regular twice-yearly visits to the dentist, your mouth can stay healthy and your smile bright.

Cavities and oral disease

Poor oral health can result in cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer. Plaque is the film of bacteria that develops on your teeth. If allowed to build up, it can lead to gum disease, which causes inflammation, bleeding, decay and even tooth loss. Poor oral health can also contribute to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Clean routine

The recommended daily oral hygiene routine is simple: brush twice a day and floss once a day. It is important to use toothpaste that contains fluoride—a mineral that strengths your teeth. When brushing, be sure to brush long enough. It is recommended to brush your teeth for a full 2 minutes and to reach all sides. Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. While studies have shown that the electric toothbrushes are most effective, brushing with a regular toothbrush for 2 minutes gets the job done and is cheaper. Also avoid smoking, which can damage healthy gums and stain the enamel on your teeth.

Healthy smiles for kids

It’s easy to overlook dental care for young kids because their baby teeth will fall out. However, baby teeth are important for early physical and social development. It is also recommended that parents assist children with brushing their teeth up until the age of 7. Tooth decay is the top chronic childhood illness and is mostly preventable. Dental sealants, a protective coating that’s applied to the chewing surface of the molars, can prevent 80 percent of cavities for the first two years after being applied and 50 percent for up to 4 years. Children who do not have dental sealants are 3 times more likely to get cavities.

Limit sweets and soda

A key component of good oral health is diet. Sugary and acidic foods and drinks wreck havoc on your teeth. Every time you consume something sugary, the sugar combines with the bacteria on your teeth and creates an acid that attacks your tooth enamel and leads to tooth decay. It is not how much sugar you consume, but how often you consume it. An attack on your teeth occurs every time sugar is consumed and lasts for 20 minutes. If you sip on soda all day, your teeth are under constant attack. Diet soda is not a good solution, either. Diet or “sugar-free” soda has its own acid that attacks your teeth. To minimize tooth decay limit the number of times you consume sugary foods, drink sugary liquids through a straw, and chew-sugar free gum after eating or drinking.

Online resources 

  1. American Dental Association: Mouth Healthy Dental Tips
  2. CDC: Oral Health Basics
  3. CDC: Oral Health Conditions
  4. CDC: Dental Sealants
  5. Oral Health Foundation: General Teeth Information
  6. Oral Health Foundation: Caring for Your Teeth