6 Steps to a Healthier Smile

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a campaign sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA) to raise awareness about the importance of oral health.

According to the ADA, baby teeth are just as important as permanent teeth because they help children chew and speak as well as hold space in the jaw for the permanent teeth that are developing under the gums. Here are six ways both kids and adults can keep their pearly whites healthy and reduce the risk of developing gum disease:

1. Brush Twice a Day – Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, even more prevalent than asthma. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and make sure your kids are brushing as well.

2. Floss Daily – The majority of dentists agree that flossing is even more important than brushing since it reaches food and plaque that gets trapped between the teeth, helps polish the tooth’s surfaces, and helps control bad breath. Waxed, unwaxed, flavored, or on a stick, finding the type of dental floss that’s easiest to manipulate in your mouth will help flossing become a regular habit.

3. Keep Tooth Decay at Bay – Kids typically don’t lose their last baby tooth until around age twelve, and ignoring signs of decay in baby teeth, since you know they’re coming out anyway, can lead to painful dental infections, orthodontic problems, difficulty eating and increases the chance of decay in permanent teeth.  Ask your dentist about applying sealants to help shield teeth from cavities caused by bacteria and plaque.

4. Get Enough Fluoride – The fluoride in toothpaste and the majority of tap water should be sufficient to keep the tooth’s enamel strong. However, the ADA cautions against drinking too much bottled water since many brands don’t contain the same levels of fluoride found in tap water. Too little fluoride causes teeth to become more susceptible to cavities. If you’re unsure, ask your dentist about brush-on fluoride treatments during a routine visit to help strengthen the enamel.

5. Eat Less Sugar – Aim to eat a variety of nutritious foods and drink more water. Reduce sugary snacks and beverages that produce oral acids like soda, cookies, cake and chips. When you do eat sweets, try to consume them with meals since saliva production increases while eating and can help rinse food particles from the mouth.

6. See Your Dentist Twice a Year – Make scheduling regular dental visits as routine as scheduling preventative doctor visits with your primary physician.  The ADA recommends that kids start seeing a dentist around their first birthday for a preventative check up.

Recent studies have shown a correlation between dental disease and heart disease, and patients with periodontal disease can have twice the risk of developing a heart attack or stroke.  Maintaining healthy gums will decrease the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases, and lead to a healthier smile. To check symptoms of gum disease or tooth decay and review treatment options, download the free iTriage app or visit www.iTriageHealth.com.

3 comments

  1. thanks for the lovely tips…its really a great post…I was wondering to know something actually me and my wife are too curious with our child’s baby tooth. He will turn 6 months on March, yet he still doesn’t have any tooth….please suggest what we should do…should we take him to dentist as he is very small..Hygienist School

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  3. I became a andtel hygienist in my early 20’s. I loved it.Being a andtel hygienist enabled my husband to finish his education at a university. When we had children it was a perfect profession because I worked part-time enabling me to spend most of my time raising my four children. When they were teenagers I went back to school and obtained my Bachelors degree and at 45 I received my Master’s degree in Dental Hygiene at Old Dominion University. My dream was to teach. An opportunity came for me to work at a Veteran’s Affairs Medical Hospital and the challenge working with medically compromised patients in a hospital setting was appealing. This would also satisfy my desire to teach, since there were multiple opportunities to teach within the VA system. I had the privilege working with andtel hygiene students as clinical rotations, teaching diabetic classes other related health concerns to our veterans. I worked with paralyzed veterans both in the clinic and bedside, and on occasion infection control and smoking cessation classes. One of my great pleasures was working with the professional standard board reviewing credentials directly involved with standard of andtel hygienists within the Veteran’s Affairs system. Ten months ago I was diagnosed with amylodosis. This abruptly changed my life and my career. Amyodosis is a rare blood disease that results in the extra cellular deposits and misfolding of insoluble fiber proteins. There are several kinds of amyloidosis mine is a bone marrow plasma cell disorder, or a lymphoproliferative disease. The amyloid is an abnormal antibody protein light change produced in the bone marrow by a plasma cell. These light chains proteins often occur in multiple organs in a very short period of time. The most common organs involved in AL (primary) Amyloidosis are the heart, kidneys, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. Without treatment the survival rate is only a few months, Currently, there is no cure however the most common treatment is chemotherapy and /or Stem Cell Transplant.My amyloidosis attacked my heart and within months I was in Cardiac Intensive Care waiting for a heart transplant. I received a heart within five months of my diagnosis and will start my stem cell transplant next week, five months after my heart transplant.Ten years prior to my diagnosis I rode several charity century bike rides including leukemia, diabetes, cancer and multiple sclerosis, never dreaming one day I would be riding for my own needs. My goal is to on again ride a 20 K in the transplant Olympic Games in 2012, maybe even a triathlon. I will be on immune suppressed medicines the rest of my life and my resistance will always be compromised therefore my clinic love for andtel hygiene must stop. Once stronger I hope to lecture in both my profession and else ware as an organ recipient and the awareness of amyloisosis. Being a andtel hygienist enabled me to have the medical background to understand my disease and the strength and determination to overcome. I had a wonderful professor at ODU who constantly pushed me to my limits. I have never finished reaching.

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