Good oral hygiene improves overall health
January 11, 2012
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
A bright white smile shows confidence and can be reassuring to others, but did you know that healthy teeth also can say a lot about overall good health?
Did you also know that good oral health means more than just having clean teeth?
Good oral health includes being free of gum disease, oral cancers and oral pain. Many studies have linked good oral health to reduced rates of heart disease, better control of blood sugar in diabetic patients and better school achievement in children.
In Nevada, the rate of tooth decay and oral disease is higher than the rest of the country as a whole. Nevadans need to make a special effort to practice good oral hygiene. Take care of your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing to reduce dental plaque and prevent gum disease and visit the dentist regularly. Dental check-ups can detect early signs of oral health problems and can lead to treatments that will prevent further damage, and in some cases, reverse the problem. Professional teeth cleaning is important for preventing oral problems.
Here in Northern Nevada, we do not have fluoridated water, but adults can use fluoride toothpaste to help protect against tooth decay, and children can get fluoride varnish on their teeth to help them resist cavities.
At Carson City Health and Human Services, oral health screening and fluoride treatments are offered as part of well-child visits, which can be scheduled at the clinic every Monday. Referrals are also made from the Health Department to dentists.
In addition to brushing and flossing regularly and seeing the dentist, there are other healthy habits that can help you keep your smile healthy. First, avoid tobacco. Smoking or chewing tobacco makes your breath stink and discolors your teeth, and tobacco use in any form – cigarette, pipes, and smokeless (spit) tobacco – increases the risk for gum disease, oral problems and throat cancers.
Second, limit snacks full of sugars and starches, which can contribute to tooth decay. Not only will your teeth thank you, but improving your diet is a sure way to improve your health.