Healthy Teeth for the New Year

If you are committed to adopting healthier habits in the new year, there is no better place to start than with the health of your mouth.

According to the Mayo Clinic, your oral health provides signs about your overall health. Additionally, problems with your dental health can cause other types of health issues.

Our bodies naturally harbor bacteria and while most of it is harmless, bacteria in the mouth that isn’t kept under control through good dental habits such as regular brushing and flossing could lead to tooth decay or periodontal disease.

Some of the more serious health effects of untreated dental conditions can include:

  • Endocarditis. This is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). This disease typically happens when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
  • Cardiovascular Disease. There has been research that suggests that the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause might be linked to heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke.
  • Pregnancy and birth. Pregnant women who have periodontitis could risk premature birth and low birth weight of their baby.

Here are some tips to ensure healthy dental care habits for the New Year:

  • Eat a Healthier Diet. Foods such as yogurt, cheese, leafy greens, celery and apples are good choices for healthy teeth and gums. Try to avoid enamel-eroding foods, including sticky candy, carbohydrates, and sugary sodas.
  • Avoid Nicotine. Gum disease progresses faster for tobacco smokers than for non-smokers. Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. Smoking also causes stained teeth, and a lack of oxygen in your bloodstream, leading to the infected gums not being able to heal.
  • Brush Your Teeth at Least Twice a Day with Fluoride Toothpaste and Floss Daily. Flossing and brushing your teeth removes plaque, which if not removed can lead to a hardened substance called calculus. When calculus occurs above or below the gum line the gums become irritated and inflamed.
  • Visit Your Dentist for a Dental Exam and Cleaning at Least Twice a Year. It’s natural to have some plaque buildup on your teeth. That’s why it is important to have routine dental cleanings and exams to ensure you are consistently professionally removing the plaque from your teeth, and to ensure you don’t have untreated dental conditions. Deciding to not see the dentist for routine care can lead to cavities or root canals, and not tackling worse conditions can lead to infections and tooth loss.
  • Replace Your Toothbrush Every Three to Four Months or Sooner If Bristles Are Frayed. Bacteria and fungus can hide in the bristles of your toothbrush and affect your oral health and wellbeing.