Good dental hygiene key to overall oral health
Fresh breath, strong teeth and healthy gums are all vital when it comes to good oral health.
October marks National Dental Hygiene Month and is a chance to highlight important steps that could lead to improved oral health.
Coastal Health & Wellness (CHW) offers basic dental services for all ages from cleanings to tooth extractions as well as affordable dentures, root canals and crowns.
Healthy oral habits can prevent gum disease and tooth decay, which can both lead to pain and tooth loss. Follow these healthy habits from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for good oral health.
Brush your teeth two times a day, for about two minutes each time, with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is a mineral that helps protect teeth from decay. Also, try to use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
“Don’t just brush back and forth horizontally on your teeth. Use short, back and forth strokes while brushing in circles. Don’t forget to gently brush along the gum line,” said Dr. Hanna Lindskog, CHW dental director. “Healthy gums are just as important as healthy teeth.”
Also, brush your tongue to remove bacteria. This will also help to keep breath fresh.
Floss between your teeth every day. Flossing removes plaque and any food between teeth that the toothbrush may have missed. Plaque is a sticky substance that can form between your teeth. If it stays too long, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Rinse your mouth with water after flossing.
“You may not know how to floss. That’s OK,” Lindskog said. “Talk to your dentist about what to do and any tips they may have if you’re nervous about starting. Flossing is incredibly important to oral health.”
Visit the dentist
Visit a dentist regularly for a checkup and cleaning. Regular checkups mean visiting a dentist once or twice a year.
“You still need to have regular visits even if you have dentures,” Lindskog said. “It’s OK to be nervous about going to the dentist, especially if you’re in pain. Just know we are here to help. If you’re feeling anxious, talk to your dentist. Take headphones and listen to music.”
The HHS suggests cutting down on sugary food and drinks and not smoking or chewing tobacco. Also, if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
Taking care of your teeth is especially important if you have diabetes, cancer, are an older adult or pregnant.
CHW accepts Medicaid, Medicare and most major dental insurance plans and offers discounted health services for the indigent, uninsured and underinsured who qualify. To be considered for the uninsured program, patients need to apply for discounted services and be financially screened by patient services staff.
For more information on services, accepted insurance and the uninsured program, visit www.coastalhw.org.