Smile baby, smile
When was the last time you saw a baby smile? Did it give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, and did you see that little darling flash that toothy grin, even if there were only a couple of teeth showing?
Well, if you want to have the same grin when you’re an adult, make sure you skip brushing and flossing! Taking care of your teeth is mandatory if you want to captivate the world with your pearly whites, and maintaining proper oral health is critical to keeping your overall physical health in good order.
Regular preventive dental care for your children can stop dental problems before they occur, meaning that your children will never have to miss school because of dental problems. Who would have thought that having family dental insurance was so important to your child’s education?
Starting out life as a child and then transitioning through adolescence into adulthood is challenging for anyone, but if your teeth and gums lack attention through the formative years, you’ll suffer the results of poor dental hygiene, especially when your are older.
Diet is especially important as well when it comes to taking care of your teeth. Diets low in certain nutrients reduce resistance to oral and dental infections, that is, periodontal disease (gum disease) and decay. A healthy immune system is essential to controlling periodontal disease.
Counselling in the four basic food groups will improve dental health and general health according to the Dental Health Alert newsletter.
The consumption of sugar, especially in sticky forms or in a baby bottle while sleeping, contributes to the rapid development of dental decay. The trace nutrient fluoride, may not be adequately supplied by bottle or municipal water supplies. Supplementation with oral tablets and topical application will reduce the incidence of dental decay by more than 60%. Together, a balanced diet, daily use of fluoride, effective brushing, and sensible eating habits can reduce the risk of, or even prevent, infectious dental disease. Have you been swigging those energy drinks?
Energy drinks which claim to give you a lift may erode your teeth, dentists warn, according to the Daily Mail. Exercise enthusiasts who enjoy a liquid energy boost straight after working out may face the biggest risk. Vigorous exercise can dry out protective saliva in the mouth, making teeth more vulnerable to the acids in sugary drinks.
The high-energy drink Red Bull was most likely to cause ‘acid attacks’ in a study of 96 soft drinks carried out at Dundee University.
Dentists believe this is a growing problem, particularly among children and young adults. While many people understand that sugar causes decay, they fail to realise the threat posed by acids, which strip away tooth enamel.
Those who enjoy soft drinks straight after exercise, when the mouth can be dry, are particularly at risk because of a lack of protective saliva. Dentists advise that water is probably a safer choice. According to The Sunday Times, more than a third of children in England and Wales have decayed or missing teeth or fillings by the age of five. The worst-hit cities include Middlesbrough, Manchester and Nottingham, and in the very worst areas — in South Wales — more than three quarters of five-year-olds suffer tooth decay. Dentists blame the problems on sugary foods and fizzy drinks.
Despite health campaigns encouraging children to avoid the most damaging foods, levels of decay remain stubbornly high. Some dentists warn that childhood dental problems may get even worse because of a shortage of NHS dentists, with long queues forming when places on health service dental lists become available. Fruit juice may cause erosion, but tooth decay, the black holes in children’s teeth, is caused almost entirely by sugar.
Parents and grandparents continue to give children sweets, and so children crave them. They regard giving sweets as a token of love and fail to take the consequences seriously enough. If you cut sugar out of your diet, tooth decay would be vastly reduced. There is an unacceptable and growing chasm between good and poor dental health in the UK, dentists warn, as reported not long ago by the BBC. Greater focus is needed on prevention, especially in children living in deprived areas based on a report from the British Dental Association (BDA).
Older people and those with disabilities are also particularly at risk from poor oral health and need more attention. That’s what happens when proper dental care is not a facet of everyday life. Among children, the effect of deprivation on teeth is particularly marked. In the poorest areas, 60% of five year-olds and 70% of eight year-olds have obvious signs of decay in their milk teeth. This compares with 40% of five year-olds and 55% of eight year-olds in more affluent areas.
Alcohol and tobacco are also key factors in oral health inequalities, according to the British Dental Association (BDA), and dentists should be more involved in counseling patients, helping them to quit. And, the BDA also called for targeted fluoridation to reduce the risk of tooth decay. Children in the UK have among the lowest rates of tooth decay anywhere in the world even though much progress has been made over the last three decades in dental care. So, what are some options? Get on with your own personal dental programme at home.
Make sure you floss and brush at least twice per day. Avoid sugary foods as much as possible, and visit your dentist at least once per year, or twice if you can, for a dental checkup. These are simple suggestions that everyone can do, and they usually don’t cost that much. If you lack a dental scheme, or one is not provided by your employer, consider buying one that will save you money when you visit the dentist.
There are some really good schemes available for groups, employers, and individual families. To find them, just contact your health broker, HR director at work, or search the Internet for viable options. One very affordable dental scheme in particular, which is available for a nominal monthly fee, is through a brand called Healthy Discounts (www.healthydiscounts.co.uk).
For just a few pounds per month, you can save on dental procedures, and they throw in optical discounts at no extra cost in the programme. If you have a cash plan from your employer, you can combine them for added savings. It just makes sense to keep your smile in good order, especially when so much depends on it. Your dental hygiene can affect your overall health including major medical conditions if you don’t take care of your teeth and gums. Also, your social life will definitely improve with a nice set of gleaming white teeth that are actually yours, not the kind purchased and set in a glass of water by the bed each night. So, smile, baby, smile!