White teeth and fresh breath are wonderful. But appearance is only one aspect of a healthy mouth. True oral health goes beyond simply having a great smile.
Oral health acts as an important window into the overall health of your entire body. Here are nine interesting, informative and often-overlooked oral health facts which will help keep your mouth in tip-top shape:
1. Brushing Should Take Two Minutes or More
Many people don’t brush for as long as they should be. Experts recommend brushing for at least two minutes. Even better, try brushing for at least three minutes – one-and-half on the upper half and the same on the lower set.
Having trouble keeping track of time while brushing? Setting a timer, or even playing a song, can help you know when two or more minutes have passed.
2. Chewing Gum Helps Keep Teeth Clean
The American Dental Association recommends chewing a piece of sugar-free gum after meals. Chewing increases saliva, which helps wash away the acids created when bacteria break down food particles.
Many people chew a piece of gum when brushing isn’t an option. While that’s great, don’t overlook the value of popping a piece of sugarless gum even when your mouth already feels clean.
3. Watch Out for the Wrong Beverages
Dental experts have known for a long time that soft drinks are one of the leading causes of tooth decay. The sugars and acids will eventually destroy the enamel on your teeth, which leads to decay, discoloration and increased sensitivity.
Soft drinks, coffee and tea are generally known as bad for your teeth. But many people are surprised to learn that sports drinks can also cause dental problems.
The good news is you don’t have to give up any of these drinks entirely. Limit damage by only drinking them occasionally. Use a straw to restrict the liquid’s direct exposure to enamel. Finally, rinse your mouth with water afterward.
4. Toothbrushes Need Frequent Changing
Dental experts recommend changing your toothbrush every three months. After three months of regular use, the brush bristles will have broken down enough to impair their ability to clean. Plus, germs will have built up on the brush to a fairly significant degree.
5. Women have an Increased Risk of Gum Disease
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, women have an increased risk of contracting gum disease (also called periodontal disease). This increased risk is caused by certain female hormones. Women also have an increased risk of developing cold sores, canker sores and dry mouth.
6. Men have an Increased Risk of Oral Cancer
Men face their own increased dental risks, too. According to the American Cancer Society, men have about twice the risk of developing oral cancer than women do. Watch out for mouth sores which don’t heal, persistent pain, lumps in the mouth and throat, and other abnormalities.
7. Dental Problems Get Worse Over Time
Many minor injuries to your body will simply heal on their own. If you bang your knee against a table, you probably don’t go running off to the doctor. But oral health doesn’t work in the same way. Instead of disappearing over time, minor dental issues are likely to grow into large problems.
You should visit a dentist at the first sign of an oral health problem. For instance, one of the first signs of tooth decay is a white spot on your tooth. Early intervention can stop the decay and repair the damaged enamel. Left untreated, that small spot can grow into a full-blown cavity, which is much more difficult (and expensive) to treat.
8. Babies and Toddlers are Cavity Prone
Unfortunately, the unique structure of baby teeth makes them very vulnerable to cavities. Even worse, one cavity can quickly spread to nearby teeth.
Babies can’t tell you directly where they’re feeling discomfort. Watch for holes and dark spots on teeth. Also, try to avoid putting little ones to bed at night with a juice bottle.
9. Oral Health can be Affordable for Anyone
Costs are a major reason why many people don’t visit the dentist as regularly as they should. While dental insurance is often a great option, it’s not the only way to save money at the dentist’s office. Dental savings plans are an affordable alternative to dental insurance – although they’re not quite as well-known to the general public.
Joining a dental savings plan gives you access to a discount of 15% to 50% on most dental procedures. You can join a dental savings plan and start saving right away. There are no health restrictions or wait times. Simply present your membership card at any of the over 100,000 participating dentists for instant savings.
Understanding oral health is the key to maintaining a healthy smile while also preventing any potential problems. With a dental discount plan, you’ll be able to visit your dentist on a regular basis and develop the best plan for long-term care.