Good Oral Health Prevents Chronic Illness

Everybody knows that regular dental visits are ideal. They make you feel confident that your teeth and gums are healthy. You are likely to have no pain when you eat. And it's a relief to avoid emergency dental work. Those are all things to smile about!

From smiles to smells and speaking to tasting, your teeth and gums play a big role in your life. But did you know they also play a big role in your overall health? More and more evidence1 links poor oral health to chronic illness like diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke.

Take care of your oral health—in and out of the dentist chair. Here are some guidelines for all ages.

For babies

Good dental care starts before teeth even come in. This is because gums are important too. To give babies the best oral care:

  • Wipe gums twice a day with a soft, clean cloth. The best times are after the first morning feeding and right before bed.
  • When teeth do come in, brush twice a day with a soft, small-bristled toothbrush and plain water.
  • Visit a dentist around your baby’s first birthday to help spot any potential problems.
  • Talk to your dentist or doctor about fluoride. When the first tooth appears, ask about fluoride sealants. Avoid fluoride toothpaste for children under two, unless directed by a dentist or doctor.

For children

By now, children are aware that they need their teeth. This is when we prepare them for a lifetime of care by building good habits. You can help them out by teaching them to:

  • Brush their teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Make sure they spit the toothpaste out and do not swallow.
  • Drink tap water that contains fluoride.

Your child may need help learning proper tooth-brushing techniques2. It’s best to watch them when you can and offer tips. Now is also a good time to ask their dentist about dental sealants.

For adults

As the saying goes, you only have to brush the ones you want to keep! But there’s more to good oral health than just brushing. Take steps to protect your body3 from the risk of other chronic illnesses by caring for your oral health.

  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products.
  • Drink fluoridated water and brush with fluoride toothpaste.
  • If you have diabetes, maintaining and controlling it can decrease the risk of gum disease and other complications.
  • If your medication causes dry mouth, ask your doctor for a different medication that may not cause this condition. If dry mouth cannot be avoided, drink plenty of water, chew sugarless gum, and avoid tobacco products and alcohol.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks.
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Brush teeth thoroughly and floss between the teeth to remove dental plaque.
  • See your doctor or dentist if you have sudden changes in taste and smell.
  • Visit your dentist on a regular basis, even if you have no natural teeth or have dentures. Remember: gum health is important too.
  • When acting as a caregiver, help older individuals brush and floss their teeth if they are not able to.

For pregnant women

When you’re pregnant and have morning sickness or frequent vomiting, you have to take extra care of your teeth. This is because stomach acid can weaken your tooth enamel. So, for those moms who get sick, protect your teeth afterward. Rinse your mouth with one teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. This helps wash stomach acid away and keep your tooth enamel safe.


Sources:

1healthypeople.gov

2mouthealthy.org

3mayoclinic.org

The information provided is meant for a general audience. Capital BlueCross and its affiliated companies believe this health education resource provides useful information but does not assume any liability associated with its use.

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