It’s National Dental Hygiene Month, and we encourage you to give special attention to your dental care and habits. Because of the potential for serious illnesses as a result of dental disease, you should consider your oral examinations just as important as regular physical examinations, or going to the doctor when you’re not feeling well. After all, you could have gingivitis or periodontal disease (Gum Disease) that is making you sick.
Gum disease can have many different causes: not brushing and flossing daily, diabetes, medications (drugs for depression, antihistamines, painkillers, high blood pressure), hormonal changes (especially pregnancy), smoking and family history.
It’s important to know that gum disease cannot only cause you to lose teeth, but also can cause bacteria from gum infections that spread to other parts of the body and cause serious illness and even death.
Signs you need to see a dentist soon:
• Halitosis (chronic bad breath)
• Sensitive teeth
• Tender or bleeding gums
• Longer appearing teeth from receding gums
• Red or swollen gums
• Painful chewing
• Loose teeth
It is recommended that you have regular teeth cleanings twice a year. Also, if your dentist sees signs of teeth deteriorating and/or gum disease, he or she may recommend that you have additional cleanings throughout the year.
Most major health insurance plans offer dental care as a part of their health plans. However, if you don’t have a group dental plan, there are other options for getting care:
• The Affordable Care Act offers dental plans through www.healthcare.gov.
• Local community health centers often have dental services onsite.
• Many dental schools and dental hygienist training programs provide low or no cost treatment.
• The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics provide dental care during their One-Day Free Clinics events across the country.
• The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has additional resources for low-cost dental care, including help for children and seniors.
Another important reason to pay close attention to your oral health is that studies have found a direct connection between poor dental care and heart disease, Alzheimer’s and premature birth and low birth weight.
Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!®