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When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, many people vow to make big changes in the upcoming
year. Improving your oral health doesn’t take a large commitment and can be easy to do. With just a few minutes
dedicated to daily dental health, you can spend next New Year’s Eve dazzling your date with your sparkling
smile. Here are a few resolutions to get you started.

BUMP UP
YOUR BRUSHING.
If you’re not already brushing twice daily, now is a
great time to start. If you tend to skip the evening
session, work it into your bedtime routine. Brushing
before you hit the hay helps keep detrimental debris
from clinging to your teeth overnight. It’s also
best to make sure bristles are spending enough
quality time with your teeth. Though two minutes is
recommended, most people invest just 46 seconds
per brushing session.
TAKE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH
TO WORK.
Already brushing twice daily? Congrats! For bonus
points, keep a brush at the office so you can freshen
up after power lunches (or microwave meals). You can
even skip toothpaste for this “extra” third session.
FOLLOW THROUGH
WITH FLOSSING.
One in 10 people say they never floss. If you’re
holding out, what are you waiting for? With just a
couple of minutes and about 18 inches of floss, your
teeth will be cleaner and healthier. (And your breath
will benefit, too.) Flossing is the single best way to
remove plaque from between your teeth where the
toothbrush can’t reach, so make sure it’s part of your
daily oral health regimen.
NIP NAIL BITING
IN THE BUD.
It’s not only bad for your manicure, but it’s not doing
your teeth any favors, either. Nail nibbling has been
linked to oral health problems such as teeth grinding
and jaw clenching, which can lead to facial pain
and sensitive teeth. Because it’s not as tempting to
gnaw on neat nails, try to take care of jagged edges,
hangnails and ragged cuticles. You can also try an
instant reminder: Coat your nails with a clear,
bitter-tasting polish to deter you from chewing.
DROP IN ON
YOUR DENTIST.
Been awhile since your last dental appointment?
Here’s a resolution you can cross off your list in the
next five minutes: Call your dentist and schedule a
checkup. If a phobia is keeping you from visiting,
you’re not alone — more than 20 million Americans
are afraid of the dentist. Discuss your fear with your
dentist so he or she can help. If it’s been a really long
time since you last wore a dental bib, take comfort in
the fact that modern dentistry has come a long way.
Not only has pain management improved but also
many practices offer soothing touches such as TVs,
pillows, blankets, aromatherapy and music.
JUST SAY NO
TO TOBACCO.
This one isn’t quite as easy to conquer, but it’s one of
the most important. In addition to decreasing your risk
for oral cancer, kicking the habit can decrease your
risk for gum disease, tooth discoloration, bad breath
and swollen gums. So, make a plan. Set a date,
such as “I’m going to quit on February 1,” instead of
“I’m going to quit smoking this year.” Discuss your
cessation plan with your physician or dentist. Join a
support group, and don’t be shy about asking your
friends, family and co-workers for encouragement.

grin!

DENTAL HYGIENIST MONTH

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Leave the Spring cleaning to us….

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The importance of oral health

Regular dentist visits can do more than keep your smile attractive – they can tell dentists a lot about your overall health, including whether or not you may be developing a disease like diabetes.

New research suggests that the health of your mouth mirrors the condition of your body as a whole. For example, when your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is good, too. On the other hand, if you have poor oral health, you may have other health problems.

Research also shows that good oral health may actually prevent certain diseases from occurring.

Gum disease and health complications

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, there is a relationship between gum (periodontal) disease and health complications such as a stroke and heart disease. Women with gum disease also show higher incidences of pre-term, low birth-weight babies.

Other research shows that more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases (diseases involving many organs or the whole body) have oral manifestations, including swollen gums, mouth ulcers, dry mouth and excessive gum problems. Such diseases include:

  • Diabetes
  • Leukemia
  • Oral cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease

Since most people have regular oral examinations, their dentist may be the first health care provider to diagnose a health problem in its early stages.

Poor oral health can lead to problems

If you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, your poor oral hygiene can actually lead to other health problems, including:

  • Oral and facial pain. According to the Office of the Surgeon General, this pain may be largely due to infection of the gums that support the teeth and can lead to tooth loss. Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, and advanced gum disease affect more than 75 percent of the U.S. population.
  • Problems with the heart and other major organs.Mouth infections can affect major organs. For example, the heart and heart valves can become inflamed by bacterial endocarditis, a condition that affects people with heart disease or anyone with damaged heart tissue.
  • Digestion problems. Digestion begins with physical and chemical processes in the mouth, and problems here can lead to intestinal failure, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.

What you can do

Seeing a dentist regularly helps to keep your mouth in top shape and allows your dentist to watch for developments that may point to other health issues. A dental exam can also detect poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems and improper jaw alignment. Provide your dentist with a complete medical history and inform him or her of any recent health developments, even if they seem unrelated to your oral health.

At home, you can practice good oral hygiene:

  • Brush for two to three minutes, at least twice a day, with fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Eat a healthy diet to provide the nutrients necessary (vitamins A and C, in particular) to prevent gum disease.
  • Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, which may contribute to gum disease and oral cancer.
  • Exercise preventive care and schedule regular dental checkups — the surest way to detect early signs of periodontal disease.

The importance of oral health to overall health. Academy of General Dentistry.

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