Good oral health is essential for your overall health and well-being. Although there’s no way to prevent all dental issues even with the most studious and diligent care, taking good care of your teeth can help prevent pain or chronic diseases. This week, we’re sharing tips to manage your oral health and prevent problems with your dental health.
Practicing good oral hygiene
Proper oral hygiene is essential to the health of your teeth, gums and overall health. Taking care of your mouth helps remove plaque, which can cause decay and cavities. Persistent dental neglect and improper hygiene can contribute to the development of other health issues such as bone loss in the jaw (periodontal disease), cardiovascular disease, infection, diabetes, or other health challenges.
But there’s good news! Good oral hygiene goes a long way in preventing the development of dental issues. Good hygiene entails brushing your teeth and gums at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, and perhaps a light brush after meals to remove food particles is advised. Daily flossing is another facet of oral care! Since it’s virtually impossible to ensure the bristles adequately clean crevices in between teeth where plaque may accumulate, flossing is vital for a complete clean.
A few other tips to take the best care of your teeth would be to pay attention to your brushing technique, brush type and toothpaste selection:
- Use toothpaste with fluoride that will help you strengthen and maintain your tooth enamel.
- Select a soft or ultra-soft toothbrush to prevent damage to the enamel and gum tissue that results in inflammation.
- To follow a proper brushing technique, use a combination of circular and up and down motions while paying close attention to the interface between the teeth and gums, to prevent plaque and tartar build-up as well as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). Your tongue is like a carpet in your mouth: it covers a large surface area, is porous and bacteria love to hang out on it. This contributes to halitosis (bad breath). Make sure to gently and thoroughly brush or use a tongue scraper on the tongue where bacteria tend to reside.
Visit your dentist regularly
Dental appointments shouldn’t just be made when you have a problem that needs to be addressed. Prevention is always better than needing a cure! The Canadian Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist on a regular basis, and if you’re prone to cavities or gum disease, your dentist may need to see you more often. During a regular visit, your dentist will do an assessment of your teeth and gums, inspect your head, neck and salivary glands and offer a routine cleaning of your teeth. This is also a good time to talk about any individual concerns you have regarding your oral health and discuss a care plan or actions for any treatments.
Look for dental coverage to access care
Canada’s universal healthcare doesn’t offer dental care, however Saskatchewan Health provides some coverage in certain situations such as:
- Specific conditions requiring surgical intervention
- Cleft palate reconstructions
- Medically necessary extractions
The province also extends care through Supplementary Health Benefits to individuals who may qualify for basic and emergency care.
Furthermore, the federal government has recently implemented the Canada Dental Benefit plan to assist Canadians who earn less than $90,000 per year to provide dental care to children 12 and under.
You may also receive dental coverage through your group benefits insurance through your employer. Saskatchewan Blue Cross Personal Health Plans also offer an add-on for dental coverage designed to meet your needs.
Limit snacking on sugar and sweets
What you eat and drink affects your teeth. Eating sticky, sugary foods, sugar-containing gum and beverages, contribute to cavities and tooth decay. Try to reduce your intake of sodas, coffee, tea, juice, alcohol, candy, chocolate and white bread, while instead opting for whole fruits and vegetables, milk, fortified tofu, protein-rich foods, and whole grains.
Add foods that are high in calcium, vitamin D, A & C, magnesium, phosphorus, and protein to your daily diet. These help support the health of soft tissues, bone and tooth enamel. Water also helps to irrigate the mouth, maintain hydration and saliva, and removes food particles and bacteria. Make it your drink of choice!
Kick your smoking habit to the curb
Tobacco use, either smoking or chewing tobacco, is harmful to health, especially cardiovascular health. It is also the leading cause of gum disease and oral cancer. Tobacco products can stain the teeth, impair adequate blood flow to the gums and teeth, contribute to gingivitis, bad breath, yellowed teeth and tooth loss from periodontal disease. Best is to avoid use of tobacco. If you’re looking to quit smoking, ask your healthcare provider about treatment options that can help.
Your teeth and mouth are an integral part of your body as a whole. Taking good care of your oral health can positively impact your life, over health and keep you smiling.