Beyond Brushing: Essential Habits for Optimal Teeth Wellness

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Practicing good oral hygiene, eating a healthful diet, not smoking, and maintaining regular dental checkups help keep the teeth and gums healthy. These habits can also improve a person’s overall health and decrease their risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

Oral health is important to a person’s quality of life, including their ability to communicate and interact with others, maintain proper nutrition, and work and study. Tooth decay and gum disease can cause pain, disfigurement, and discomfort and impact a person’s self-esteem. These problems can lead to difficulty with eating, speech, and hearing and may even affect a person’s mood.

Tooth decay is one of the most common and preventable chronic health conditions in the United States. Yet for people who lack access to affordable health insurance, dental care is often among the first services that they have to forgo. This can lead to progressive dental disease, expensive hospital use, and missed days of school or work.

For many patients, the most effective way to achieve and maintain a healthy smile is through routine visits to a dentist in Northbrook for professional cleanings, fluoride treatments, and x-rays. These appointments also allow the dentist to catch and treat cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues early on when they are easier and less costly to treat.

In addition to routine appointments, the practice of daily brushing and flossing helps to remove bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. A healthful diet that is low in sugar and acidic foods, and that provides adequate amounts of calcium can support healthy teeth. Finally, avoiding tobacco and using mouthguards during sports can also help reduce the risks of dental injury and gum disease.

While providing patient-centered care is a great start, addressing the social determinants of health is an essential step in improving oral health for all. For example, promoting and supporting healthful eating practices, providing access to affordable food, and reducing stress levels can all improve a person’s overall health.

A key to implementing these strategies is expanding the scope of the oral health care workforce. This includes allowing non-traditional providers to provide oral health services, relaxing supervision requirements, and enabling teledentistry. Furthermore, establishing partnerships with community-based organizations and federally qualified health centers can increase access for vulnerable populations. Lastly, the use of alternative payment methods can make it more affordable for patients to receive dental care.