Let’s be honest – no one looks forward to going to the dentist. But dentists do more than keep your smile looking its best. They may also help save your life.
Along with gingivitis and gum disease, many health issues show warning signs in your mouth. Every detail, from the health of your gums to the condition of your tooth enamel, tells a story. After looking at your teeth and gums, dentists can sometimes also see your risk for conditions like dementia, heart problems, diabetes, osteoporosis, eating disorders, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
In fact, a recent study found that folks who went for regular teeth cleanings had a 24 percent lower risk of heart attack and 13 percent lower risk of stroke than people who didn’t keep those appointments.
So, what should I do?
- Don’t wait until you have a problem to see your dentist. Schedule checkups every six months, adding extra visits if you have gum disease or are pregnant.
- Change your toothbrush three to four times a year. This prevents germ buildup and keeps bristles strong enough to remove plaque. That’s the sticky substance where bacteria can multiply.
- Brush teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Floss once a day.
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco. Smoking can lead to many dental issues, including bad breath, tooth discoloration and higher risk for gum disease and oral cancer.
- Avoid sugary drinks and foods. Added sugars increase your risk for cavities and place you at higher risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease and other serious health concerns.
- Can’t brush after eating? Chew sugar-free gum after meals to get rid of bacteria and food particles.