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JODY HOLTON — Save Your Smile, the Importance of Good Dental Health

Healthy living encompasses so many areas: mind, body and spirit. Today, we are talking about oral health. I know just talking about a visit to the dentist strikes fear into many folks.

Did you know, researchers say there’s a shared relationship between oral health and overall wellness?

Gum disease is linked to a host of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Dentists found that people with gum disease were twice as likely as others to die from a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke.

Some studies point to a reciprocal relationship between gum disease and diabetes. When you treat and control diabetes, immediately the condition in the mouth improves. And when you treat periodontal disease, the need for insulin is reduced.

Good dental or oral care is important to maintaining healthy teeth, gums and tongue. Oral problems, including bad breath, dry mouth, canker or cold sores, TMD, tooth decay or thrush are all treatable with proper diagnosis and care.

Brushing, flossing and rinsing are the ABCs of oral health, but they’re only the beginning. A marvelous mouth takes more than squeezing paste out of a tube – think about improving your tooth brushing technique, ditching the daily soda habit, sugary treats and saying good-bye to tobacco.

If you’re prone to ditching the dentist, you’re among the roughly 50 percent of adults in the United States who don’t see a dentist yearly because of dental phobia, finances or just plain neglect. But spend some quality time with your dentist (twice a year, the American Dental Association advises), and you’ll catch problems such as decay, gum disease, trauma or cancer at an early stage when they’re treatable, not to mention more affordable to take care of.

Toddlers and older adults tend to fly under the dental health radar, but they need mouth maintenance just like the rest of us. Children should see a dentist by the time they’re 1 and they’ll need help cleaning their teeth.

Older folks have their own oral issues. Arthritis can make brushing and flossing challenging, and as people age, the amount of saliva they produce decreases, which means more tooth decay and also discomfort for those who wear dentures.

There are some great over the counter products out there to combat dry mouth.

Although you probably know you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, if you’re like most people, you don’t give much thought to how to do it. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, pointed toward the gum line, and use gentle, short, circular motions.

Brush each tooth 10 to 15 times, but don’t overdo it. Overly aggressive brushing can damage teeth and erode your gum line. And despite what you may have heard about flossing, just do it. It’s simple: Flossing fosters healthier teeth and gums.

There is nothing fabulous about having something stuck between your teeth, detracting from your bright, beautiful smile.

There you have it. A healthy body means everything from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, including those 32 pearly whites in your mouth.

So watch what you put in your mouth, brush and floss.

Stay healthy my friends.

Jody Holton writes about health for Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be reached at jholton3@gt.rr.com.