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For some, the importance of good oral health may seem obvious. Keeping one’s teeth clean provides fresh breath for social encounters, and strong teeth that will ideally last a lifetime. There are other reasons, however, why people should see their dentists on a regular basis and be diligent with their daily oral hygiene routine. The cleanliness and health of one’s mouth is also tied into many aspects of their overall health. Oral problems such as gum disease can be an indicator of certain health problems. For example, diabetes may make an individual more susceptible to gum disease. Bacteria from the mouth may cause cardiovascular disease, including an infection of the heart’s inner lining called endocarditis.
Good oral hygiene involves properly brushing one’s teeth twice a day, and flossing at least once a day. People will want to make an appoint to see their dentists at least twice a year; however, if there are changes to the teeth or gums, or if diagnosed with diabetes or another chronic illness, it is important to make an appointment even if it exceeds the routine check-ups. In addition to brushing, flossing, and seeing one’s dentist, good oral care also involves switching one’s toothbrush approximately every three months and consuming healthy foods.
Oral Health Concerns
- Bad Breath: Causes and Treatments for bad breath on the website of the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
- Denture Care: Steps regarding denture care on the NYU Langone Medical Center website. The page also includes warnings and when to see the dentist.
- Dental X-Rays: The University of Maryland Medical Center encyclopedia defines dental x-rays, provides alternate names for the procedure, and explains the different types of x-ray tests that are performed. Risks, special considerations, and how to prepare are also covered on this page.
- Anatomy of a Tooth: A labeled illustration of a tooth and its anatomy, including a glossary of terms.
- Tooth Grinding: Bruxism causes, symptoms, exams, treatment, and potential complications are reviewed on the Medline Plus website.
- Tooth Bleaching: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center features this topic overview on teeth whitening that includes a section on bleaching the teeth.
- Sports and Mouthguards: This PDF from the American Dental Association reviews how to choose and care for a mouthguard for sport participation.
- Orthodontics (Braces): The basics of braces are covered on this Kids Health page for parents. Information includes why braces are needed, types of braces, braces care, and the initial orthodontist appointment and what to expect.
- Tooth Sensitivity: The Massachusetts Dental Society discusses what tooth sensitivity is, what causes it, and potential treatment options. The page also includes a short video.
- Pregnancy Gingivitis: Oral health and pregnancy related issues are the primary focus of this PDF, which includes a section that explains pregnancy gingivitis and why it is a concern.
- Smoking and Oral Health: The oral health effects of tobacco and benefits of quitting are illustrated in this PDF that shows images of various tobacco-related oral conditions, reviews health facts about each, and also the benefits of smoking cessation.
- Dental Health and Diabetes: Watch a video on diabetes and dental health and then read about common oral problems that diabetics may face. The ABCs of diabetes are also covered on this page of the American Dental Association’s Mouth Healthy website.
- What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer: This booklet from the National Cancer Institute provides information about oral cancer symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
- Periodontal Disease and Kissing: A question and answer page that questions whether gum disease is contagious and can be transmitted via kissing.
- Stages of Gingivitis and Periodontitis: Gum Disease – A Guide to Periodontal Disease is a PDF from the California Dental Association that covers periodontal disease. This includes a section about the stages, which includes the earliest stage that is gingivitis.
- Bulimia Nervosa and Your Oral Health: This fact sheet on adults with eating disorders reviews the clinical and oral manifestations of bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders.
- Tooth discoloration: Tooth discoloration prevention and causes are covered in this two page article on Medicine.net.
- Oral Health and the Heart: Dental health and heart health are discussed on the American Heart Association website. Questions about healthy gums in relation to a healthy heart are discussed as are ways of lowering heart disease risks.
- Tooth Abscess: Tooth abscess definition, symptoms, signs, complications, and treatment are reviewed on this Disease and Conditions page from Drexel University College of Medicine.
Tips for Parents
- Baby’s First Tooth: Baby’s first tooth tips and advice such as when to expect the first tooth, the importance of first teeth, and how to relieve discomfort. Information on this page is provided by the Emory Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
- Teething Trouble: Teeth development and teething from the Women’s and Children’s Health Network includes information about tooth development and teething, which includes teething problems that may occur.
- Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Baby bottle tooth decay is explained on this page with an illustration as well as a warning of what causes it.
- Snack Facts: Snacking tips and facts make up this PDF that answers whether snacking is healthy for children’s teeth. The dangers of sugary foods to teeth, making good snacking choices, and suggestions on health snack foods are all a part of the document.
- Sealants: Dental sealant FAQs are listed and answered on the Division of Oral Health site of the CDC.
- Thumb-sucking: Thumb sucking statistics, consequences, and treatments for children over the age of 4 are introduced on this Pediatrics Clerkship page from The University of Chicago website.
- First Dental Visit: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry explains the benefit and importance of having a child’s first dental visit during the first year of life.
- Oral Hygiene for Children: Questions and answers regarding dental hygiene for kids is the topic of this Kid’s Crest FAQs page
- Fluoride: A list of FAQ about children’s use of fluoride from the Healthy Children website.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
- What is Plaque? Plaque is defined and explained, as are ways to get rid of it, on the Oral-B Institute website.
- What is Calculus (Tartar)? The question of what is tartar is answered by WebMD, including six ways to control its buildup.
- What is Gingivitis? An explanation of what is gingivitis from Texas A&M Health Science Center.
- What is Periodontal Disease? Periodontal disease including the immune response and the clinical treatment are discussed. Illustrations of teeth at various stages of periodontitis are a part of the page.
- How do Cavities Form? The cavities/tooth decay portion of the Mayo Clinic website reviews causes of tooth decay and how they form cavities.
- Wisdom Teeth: The Colorado Springs Dental Society explains wisdom teeth, what they are, and complications that they may cause. Images of wisdom teeth are provided.
- Brushing Tips: Take Care of Your Teeth is a PDF that reviews the importance of brushing one’s teeth and tips on how to properly brush.
- Flossing Tips: Brush Up on Healthy Teeth PDF from the West Virginia University discusses floss importance and technique as well as brushing.
- What is a Dental Hygienist? The Bureau of Labor Statistics explains what dental hygienists do.