We’ve all been told that routine dental checkups are important, yet millions of Americans put off going to the dentist each year and for a number of reasons. Perhaps one reason is that many of us don’t understand just how important our oral health is to our overall health. Dental insurance for adults is not even required under Obamacare, which seems to perpetuate the idea that oral health is simply not a vital health concern. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Preventative dental care is about more than clean white teeth, fresh breath and cavity prevention. It’s time we drill down into why oral hygiene is so important.
First, dentists’ area of expertise goes beyond just teeth and gums. Dentists are trained to recognize any abnormalities or warning signs in your:
- Head, neck and jaw muscles
- Salivary glands
- Nervous system of the head and neck
Additionally, dentists can detect symptoms of diseases that manifest in the mouth but affect your whole body.
How oral health is linked to overall health
If eyes are the windows to the soul, then the mouth is the window to overall health. Research has shown correlations between poor oral health and numerous diseases, including:
- Heart disease: Medical studies have shown that oral bacteria can enter your bloodstream and cause your arteries to harden and thicken, obstructing blood flow and setting the stage for a heart attack or stroke. Additionally, the bacteria can cause inflammation or infection of the heart.
- Respiratory infections: Bacteria from gum disease can enter your lungs, which may lead to infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Diabetic complications: Some studies have established a connection between gum disease and insulin resistance indicating that poor oral health can create challenges in managing blood sugar levels.
As a result of these and other mouth-body correlations, the American Dental Association reports that the “World Health Organization has integrated oral health into its chronic disease prevention efforts.”
Practicing good oral health
Having good oral hygiene is vital to your overall quality of life. Your oral health impacts your employ ability, social life, self-esteem and, as pointed out above, your health.Now, let’s talk about what having good oral health means.
- See a dentist regularly for cleanings and exams: Your dentist can perform a much deeper and more thorough cleaning than you can.
- Brush twice a day for two minutes each time: Use fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush to clean your teeth and tongue.
- Floss daily: Plaque and food debris like to hideout between teeth, so be sure to floss between every tooth. If you can’t or won’t floss, clean between your teeth carefully. Ask your dental hygienist for tips.
- Avoid cigarettes and tobacco products: Kick these known cancer-causing products to the curb.
- Eat a well-balanced diet: Limit intake of sugars and acidy drinks/foods as they can contribute to tooth decay. Rinse your mouth with water when you choose to indulge in any of these items.
Importance of dental coverage
If you don’t have dental insurance, get it. You’ll be more likely to go to the dentist if you have dental coverage. Check to see if your employer, or your partner’s employer, offers a group dental policy. Group dental policies are far more affordable than getting an individual dental policy.
If you’re unable to get dental insurance through an employer-sponsored plan, you may want to look into getting coverage under Obamacare from Healthcare.gov. It’s important to note that in order to get dental insurance through Obamacare you’ll either need to enroll in a health plan that includes dental coverage or add dental insurance to your health plan. If you find that the dental plans offered through Obamacare aren’t affordable or the right fit for you, a dental savings plan may be just what you’re looking for.
What is a dental savings plan?
Dental savings plans, sometimes called a dental discount plans, are an affordable and flexible alternative to dental insurance. Dental savings plan start at just $80 annually for individual plans and your membership gets you access to a nationwide network of more than 100,000 dental professionals. Dental savings plans also have far fewer restrictions than dental insurance. For example, dental savings plans don’t have waiting periods, annual spending limits or deductibles.
Plus, you’ll enjoy discounts between 10% and 60% on most dental services, including:
- Oral surgery
Importance of oral health
It’s time we start viewing oral health differently and realizing the impact it has on our general wellbeing. If you haven’t seen your dentist in the last six months, schedule a dental checkup. Also, make sure you put the dental care tips we talked about above into practice now. A little preventative care can go a long way.