A better, more confident you begins every morning and ends every evening when you start and stick with a consistent oral hygiene routine. That routine, in addition to regular dentist’s office visits, helps develop not only strong teeth and gums, but also overall good health. You’ll feel good, look good, avoid unnecessary bills, and experience an improvement in many of your day-to-day social interactions. It’s easy once you understand the basic routines required to maintain good dental hygiene. Get started with some basic dental education and a thorough awareness of the steps that should and should not be taken toward great, long-term oral health.
Oral Hygiene Benefits
Daily cleaning of your teeth, gums and tongue, combined with annual check-ups, has a host of health benefits. Good oral hygiene wards off harmful bacteria and microbes that may cause tooth decay, bleeding gums, and oral infections. Proper oral hygiene is also important in helping you stay healthy, especially if you have risk factors such as diabetes and heart problems. Other than keeping associated diseases at bay, oral hygiene elevates a person’s sense of self-esteem. This is especially true for teenagers and adults who frequently interact with others at work or in social situations. Maintaining proper oral hygiene ensures that embarrassing conditions, such as plaque, tartar and more commonly, bad breath are not experienced. Keeping optimal oral hygiene lowers the need to treat dental problems that could otherwise be inexpensively prevented. For example, according to Kaiser Health News reports, dental costs make up approximately 20 percent of a child’s total health care expenses, and the costs are escalating rapidly.
Oral Hygiene for Kids
Enforcing good oral hygiene habits early in a child’s life is essential for his overall well-being. According to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of cavities in children between the ages of two and five has escalated by 15 percent. Proper oral hygiene habits in kids must start as early as the child begins to bottle feed. This is when babies are prone to tooth decay resulting from liquids, such as sweetened milk. While baby teeth should be cleaned using a washcloth, young babies should eventually have their teeth and tongues brushed using soft brushes on a regular schedule. It is important for parents to teach children the proper way to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste, to take them for regular dental check-ups, and to serve food that will maintain optimal health. Kids should eat foods that will strengthen their teeth, such as milk, cheese, and vegetables.
Oral Hygiene for Adults
Many adults experience significant dental problems that could be prevented through basic oral hygiene practices, like regular dentist appointments. For example, in 2009 alone, CDC data indicated that only 62 percent of researched adults visited the dentist. To maintain optimal oral health, adults should brush their teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal and before going to bed. Flossing is also an essential part of an adult’s daily oral hygiene regimen. Regular brushing and flossing can prevent unpleasant and embarrassing conditions, such as plaque and bad odor. However, over-brushing or flossing may result in mouth bruises and bleeding, which can lead to infections. Adults should visit their dentist regularly for routine check-ups or before purchasing over-the-counter medication.
Oral Hygiene Facts
Poor oral hygiene can increase your chances of developing heart disease. Professional teeth cleanings will reduce the bacteria that cause inflammation and eventually lead to heart disease (Veterans General Hospital in Taipei).
According to the American Dental Hygienists Association:
- A major cause of tooth loss in children is cavities; while periodontal (gum) disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
- Eating healthy snacks such as celery, carrots or apples helps clear away food loosely trapped in-between teeth.
- The leading oral health problem for infants is baby bottle tooth decay, which can be caused when babies are given a bottle filled with sugary liquids, like milk or juice, when put to bed.
Oral Hygiene Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Roughly 78 percent of Americans have had at least one cavity by age 17.
- 80 percent of the U.S. population has some form of periodontal (gum) disease.
- In 2007, Americans made about 500 million visits to dentists and spent an estimated $98.6 billion on dental services.
- Between 2005-2008, 16 percent of children ages 6-19 and 23 percent of adults 20-64 had untreated cavities.
- Dental fluorosis (overexposure to fluoride) is higher in adolescents than in adults and highest among those aged 12–15.
- Most adults show signs of periodontal or gingival diseases. Severe periodontal disease affects approximately 14 percent of adults aged 45-54.
- 23 percent of 65-74 year olds have severe periodontal disease.
- Men are more likely than women to have more severe dental diseases.
- Oral cancer occurs twice as frequently in men as women.
- Three out of four patients don’t change their toothbrush as often as is recommended. Toothbrushes should be changed every two to three months and after illnesses.
Oral hygiene greatly affects overall long-term health, and promotes a more confident you. When it comes to dental care, prevention through daily cleaning and regular visits to the dentist’s office is better not only for your health, but for your budget. That’s why it’s important for parents to play a key role in reinforcing smart oral hygiene habits. Kids are likely to follow in the footsteps of those who set positive examples and will carry those healthy habits through their own adult lives. Remember, whatever your age, it’s never too late to take a serious stand in keeping your teeth healthy and your smile confident.