Brushing twice a day and visiting the dentist twice each year are a good start, but there's more to caring for your teeth. We spoke to several dentists about why you should start taking better care of your teeth today, and how it can affect your overall health. The number one piece of advice? Start flossing. Here are five good reasons to make your teeth a priority.
As you get older, your teeth can appear dingy or yellowed if you don’t take proper care of them. If you clench or grind your teeth, they can also appear shorter as you age. Nearly 82 million Americans clench or grind their teeth. To prevent your smile from aging you, Dr. Kourosh Maddahi, a cosmetic dentist in Beverly Hills and author of Anti-Aging Dentistry recommends getting fitted for a night guard to prevent your teeth from being worn away. He also recommends brushing with a whitening toothpaste and rinsing with a salt water solution to kill unwanted bacteria.
If flossing consistently is your biggest struggle because it's hard to maneuver, try this trick from Dr. Ngozi Etufugh, a dentist and oral surgeon in New York City. Simply tie the piece of floss you're using into a loop. No more wrapping the ends of the floss around your fingers (cutting off your circulation in the process). Instead, you can hold on to the loop and floss each tooth more easily. The best part, flossing actually cleans more than 2/3 of the surface of your tooth, and it tackles the parts that your toothbrush just can't reach.
While cavities are still a concern, the older you get, the more you have to worry about periodontal or gum disease. And it's more serious than just gingivitis; you can actually start to lose bone and have receding gums, according to Dr. Stuart Froum, President of the American Academy of Periodontology and clinical professor at the New York University Dental Center. He cautions that many women between the ages of 30 and 50 can experience hormonal fluctuations that can make them more susceptible to gum disease, which makes regular visits to your dentist even more important.
Dental care is frequently neglected because it often falls under a different insurance carrier than medical care. But if you’re waiting to visit your dentist until you have insurance, you very well could end up spending more money in the long run than if you had just continued with regular visits, warns Dr. Edita Outericka, dental director of Dynamic Dental in Mansfield, Massachusetts. "I always encourage patients who come back in after having neglected their teeth, which is a big hurdle because having neglected your teeth can be embarrassing. I assure the patient that with proper treatment, we can give them a great smile," she said.
Taking care of your teeth and gums can make a big difference in your overall health. One of the most surprising discoveries is that the "bacteria that causes chronic gum disease has been found in other parts of the body — such as in the amnionic fluid. Research has linked gum disease to poor pregnancy outcomes like pre-term and low birthweight babies," says Dr. Leena Palomo, associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Gum disease, while not a cause, has also been associated with cardiovascular issues, and has been found to have a big impact on diabetes.
The bottom line is that good dental health starts with daily brushing, preferably with a whitening toothpaste like ARM & HAMMER™ Truly Radiant™ and an electric toothbrush like ARM & HAMMER™ Spinbrush™ Truly Radiant™ Deep Clean, daily flossing and regular visits to your dental professional.
This post is sponsored by ARM & HAMMER™.
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