HEALTH & FITNESS — Poor oral health is common among American adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 65 million Americans have periodontitis, the most advanced form of periodontal disease.
According to Harvard Medical School, people with periodontal disease have been found to be at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and dementia.
Incorporating measures to help protect you from serious health conditions becomes increasingly important as you age. However, many people overlook a key contributor to whole body health: the mouth. The health of your mouth is directly related to important aspects of your overall health.
Fighting the bad bacteria in your mouth that causes these health issues and more isn’t difficult, but it does require ongoing effort.
Here are some easy tips you can follow for better oral health.
Brush and floss. Keeping up on the basics is essential. Brushing twice daily and flossing at least once a day helps keep plaque in check and loosens debris that can promote harmful bacteria growth, causing bad breath and leading to cavities and gum concerns.
When brushing, aim for at least 30 seconds per quadrant and use circular motions with moderate (not aggressive) pressure. When flossing, maneuver the floss down to your gums then scrape the edges of each tooth with repeated upward and downward motions.
Restore good bacteria. Crowding out bad, disease-causing bacteria your toothbrush and floss can’t reach can help restore your mouth’s natural balance.
“Oral-care probiotics are designed specifically to balance the bacteria in the mouth, similar to how traditional probiotics work in the gut,” said Sam Low, D.D.S., M.S., M.Ed. and professor emeritus at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. “Oral-care probiotics can be one of the easiest and most effective ways to maintain good dental hygiene.”
Schedule regular cleanings. Like many health conditions, the earlier you catch a problem with your oral health, the better your prognosis. Catching and correcting small cavities is far less invasive than large cavities and other oral health problems like gum disease, which can be treated more effectively when they’re caught in the early stages.
Aim for a dental visit at least every six months, or more often if you’re experiencing pain or other concerning symptoms.