A Guide to Oral Health 
Oral health deals with the proper care of the mouth, teeth and gums. It is important to your overall well-being. A painful oral cavity, for instance, can distract you from your job. Gum disease can lead to gum recession and tooth loss. The more we learn about oral health, the longer we can keep our mouths healthy. Unfortunately, there are people who can’t afford dental care, and some people are afraid of dental visits.
One in four Americans have tooth decay that has not been adequately treated, and 50 percent of Americans have untreated gum disease. These statistics are unfortunate, but they don’t have to be true. Most communities have free or low-cost dental health care clinics. It may take a while to get an appointment, but it’s worth the wait. If you are afraid of dental visits talk to the staff at the dental office. They can offer you several options for keeping calm and relaxing during visits. Dental hygiene doesn’t have to be difficult or traumatic. In just a few minutes a day, you can improve both your smile and your dental health.
Brushing your teeth thoroughly is the foundation of good oral health. Use a soft-bristled brush. Replace it once every three to four months. Moisten the toothbrush and apply a pea-sized amount of ADA approved, fluoridated toothpaste. Move the bristles back and forth one or two teeth at a time. Be sure to brush all surfaces of each tooth. It is alright to brush the back of the tooth using up and down motions. Another option is purchasing an electric toothbrush. Most of these have the advantage of a built-in timer to make sure you brush long enough.
Brushing your teeth properly should take about two minutes. If you have trouble keeping track of the time, set the timer on your cell phone or computer. Brush twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed in the evening. Brushing your teeth polishes the surface and helps remove stains and food particles. It also keeps cavities from forming and strengthens the tooth enamel.
A lot of people don’t like flossing. They complain that it hurts their gums and makes them bleed. Ironically, flossing is one of the best things you can do to keep your gums healthy. To floss your teeth, wrap a length around your index fingers, leaving a width of three to four inches stretched between your fingers.
Advance the floss forward every few teeth. Gently, using a seesaw rhythm, run the floss between two teeth. Don’t forget to floss along the gums. If you haven’t flossed in a while, you might notice some blood on your gums. This is normal and will stop if you keep flossing twice a day.
Straighten Crooked Teeth
Crooked teeth can also interfere with the way you bite and chew. If your teeth are misaligned, make an appointment with an orthodontist to see if he or she recommends braces or clear aligners. Even if your insurance won’t cover the bill, you can pay out of pocket or apply for a medical loan. Ask your orthodontist for recommendations.
Avoid Dry Mouth
Many people have medical conditions or take medications that leave their mouths dry. This can lead to weakened enamel or gum disease. If this is a problem for you, try to drink plenty of water or chew sugar-free gum. If a medicine is causing your dry mouth, talk to your doctor. Maybe he or she can prescribe a different medication that does not have that side effect. Finally, there are medications that can treat dry mouth. Your orthodontist can help you with that.
Detect Oral Cancer
There are several symptoms of oral cancer that you can spot and report to your dental health professional. Like all forms of cancer, the earlier you catch it, the better the chances of a complete cure. Set aside a few minutes one evening a month to examine your mouth. Check for the following symptoms:
- A sore in the mouth that doesn’t heal
- Persistent pain in the mouth
- A lump in one of the cheeks
- Jaw swelling that may make dentures hurt
- Teeth becoming loose
- Persistent bad breath
Deal with Missing Teeth
If you have a tooth that has been knocked out, do your best to find the tooth. Put it back into the socket or soak it in a glass of milk. Get yourself and your tooth to the dentist as soon as possible.
If it has been a while since you lost the tooth, you have several options. These include
- Dental implant
- Tooth-supported fixed bridge
- Removable partial dentures
- Resin bonded bridge
- Complete dentures
Get Regular Check-Ups
It’s great to take care of your teeth, but it’s also important to have them checked by a dental health professional twice a year. These check-ups can help detect cavities, gum disease and the early stages of oral cancer. If you wear braces or clear aligners (such as Invisalign), you can still have dental check-ups.
Many people are afraid of going to see a dental professional. Most dental practices are very sensitive to this fear and offer everything from reassurance to sedation to help you get through your visit with a minimum of distress. If you are one of the many people who have this fear, tell the office when you call to schedule your appointment. That way they can be ready to make everything as easy as possible from the moment you step in the door.
The Best Bit…
Your dental health has an impact on your physical health. Good oral hygiene only takes a few minutes a day, and it can make you feel so much better. Set aside time in the morning and evening to care for your teeth. You’ll be glad you did. For any expertise on teeth, and of course orthodontics, we are here.
Contact Dr. Nease today and you will walk away with a smile!
424 Hyatt Street, Suite E
Gaffney, SC 29341
Phone: (864) 579-7700
A Guide to Oral Health