So I’m the mom who gives wrapped toothbrushes as party favors, always tucks them in Christmas stockings and includes them in presents. Way before having an understanding of the importance of oral hygiene, I was fascinated by mouths. As a four year old I planned on attending West Point (my father’s alma mater) and then becoming a dentist. All of my drawings, the paper purses I made, even the clay I molded took on the shape of mouths. Perhaps in a former life I was a dentist, but obviously, I digress.
Taking care of one’s teeth is just as important as exercising, watching one’s weight, and monitoring the types of food we consume. The mouth is literally the gateway into the body.
Our mouth is home to millions of microorganisms. Most of course are harmless but some can lead to tooth decay, inflammation, and infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gum disease, or periodontitis, is the second most common oral disease worldwide, after tooth decay. As many as half of all Americans suffer from it, though only about 5 to 10 percent have severe forms. Because periodontal disease causes chronic inflammation, it is thought to play a role in other inflammatory and chronic diseases.
Heart disease, complications with diabetes, strokes, arthritis, osteoporosis have been linked to poor oral hygiene. The good news, however, is that you can take control of the health of your mouth fairly simply. At the most basic, floss and brush your teeth at least twice daily. Learn to brush your teeth in a smooth fashion that does not tear up your gums and remember to brush the roof of your mouth as well as your tongue. The pace should not be rushed; choose a favorite song of about one minute and hum it or sing it to yourself. This will give you a good amount of time to brush properly, making contact with the front and back of your teeth as well as under and on top of them. Replacing your toothbrush every three months (hence the goody bags and gift tags with toothbrushes hanging on them) is recommended by the American Dental Association as is seeing your dentist every six months for a cleaning.
Toothbrushes, floss, and travel size oral hygiene kits are inexpensive and readily available, from pharmacies to mini-marts. Resolve to take a few minutes each day to take care of your mouth, your whole body for that matter, by escaping to the bathroom to wash and rinse. You’ll come out feeling fresh, clean, and ready to smile!
In good health,
Heidi Aspen Lauckhardt-Rhoades
Writer and Social Media Correspondent