We hear the words “oral health” quite often in the news, at our office, among family and friends — but what does it mean?
Oral health means much more than healthy teeth. It encompasses the entire mouth. Your gums. Your tongue. The back of your mouth/throat area. Even your jaw.
Signs of a Healthy Mouth
A healthy mouth has pink firm gums, the tongue is pink and not coated, and the teeth are clean and have minimal or no plaque deposits.
A healthy mouth smells clean and fresh and is free from gum diseases and other disorders – including oral cancer.
A healthy mouth is what everyone wants, yet so many people are not very diligent about their dental care. They skip cleaning appointments and checkups thinking that somehow they are immune to dental diseases … until they have one!
Neglected Dental Care
Neglected dental care translates into millions of lost workdays as these people take time off for more extensive dental treatments later on. The fact is, without regular, professional, preventive care, dental disease is almost inevitable and treatment is always more complex and costly than prevention. You may think you’re saving by missing a few dental appointments, but odds are you’ll pay a lot more later, and I’m not just talking about money.
Case in point: Thousands of people will contract oral cancer. Caught in its early stages, its cure rate is excellent and I routinely screen for it during each checkup – unless you don’t show up, that is.
6-Month Exams ARE Important
When I examine your teeth, I see many other things you won’t see in your mirror. I can see possible hairline fractures, impacted wisdom teeth, deterioration of fillings, crowns, and other restorations, the beginnings of cavities, pockets of infection caused by gum disease, and new decay tucked under the gum line or under existing older fillings. I can also tell when you are particularly stressed or at risk for the suffering that goes with temporomandibular (jaw) joint problems by checking for bite marks on your cheeks, worn down or cracked enamel, and changes in your bite alignment.
Oral Health Impacts Total Body Health
The mouth is also the gateway to the body, and research continues to reveal new relationships between oral bacteria and systemic diseases. And while I’ve been focusing on adults in this article, in reality problems start way earlier. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one quarter of 2 to 5 year-olds and half of kids 12 to 15 years-old have one or more cavities. And, tooth decay has affected two thirds of 16 to 19 years-old.
These are just some of the reasons why I am committed to sharing information and keeping you informed so that you can make choices that will keep you and your family happier and healthier, longer.
So when is the best time to come in and discuss a plan to prevent and maintain your optimal oral health?