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What’s Your Dental IQ?
WHAT’S YOUR DENTAL IQ?
Dental health is a key element of health. The health of one’s mouth impacts overall health and readiness. October, which is National Dental Hygiene Month, is a good time to refresh basic knowledge of dental health and hygiene.
All of these measures help prevent tooth decay. Research has shown that brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and drinking fluoridated water are the most important. Flossing prevents gingivitis (gum disease), which causes redness and bleeding around the teeth. Chewing sugarless gum made with the natural sugar zylitol, blocks bacteria from producing the acids that cause tooth decay. Seeing a dentist regularly to check for early signs of decay is important. Early tooth decay can be reversed if the teeth are treated with fluoride before the decay sets in too deeply.
Regular brushing and flossing is important to remove harmful bacteria from the mouth. Seeing a dentist regularly to check the health of your gums so that gum disease can be detected and treated before it causes damage is important. Research has shown these are both key measures in preventing gum disease.
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings applied to the grooves and pits on the chewing surfaces of teeth to seal out decay. Dental experts regard placing dental sealants and avoiding between meal snacks as key measures in preventing tooth decay. Dental sealants are commonly placed on the gums of children to prevent tooth decay.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood. It is almost entirely preventable. Children should use a small-headed toothbrush that fits the size of their mouth. Children ages 2 to 6 years should use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, the size of a pea, on their toothbrush. Children under age 2 should not use fluoride toothpaste unless it is approved by a dentist or healthcare provider. Parents should supervise their child’s tooth-brushing until age 6 to ensure that they don’t eat the toothpaste or use too much.
Other dental health measures that impact health involve sports and deployment. A key prevention measure is to use a mouth guard to prevent dental injuries when playing sports. In addition to football and rugby, blows to the mouth during activities like baseball, gymnastics, volleyball, skateboarding, soccer, field hockey, rollerblading or bicycling can result in cuts to the inside of the lips (from the edges of the teeth), tooth nerve damage, breakage or tooth loss. Using a mouth guard that fits snugly and adapts to the teeth will help prevent these injuries.
Soldiers who deploy to the field have a higher risk of decay due to the increased amounts of sugars and starches in rations. They should brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. One can brush without running water by applying toothpaste to a dry brush. Brush all surfaces of the teeth. Spit out the excess toothpaste. Do not rinse after brushing so that the fluoride will stay on longer and protect the surfaces of your teeth. Wait for least 30 minutes after brushing to eat or drink.
We know that tooth decay and gum disease are caused by factors such as diet, hygiene habits and exposure to fluoride. It is important to maintain good dental health to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Maintain regular tooth brushing and flossing. Have a dental check up ever year. For more information, contact your dental clinic.
Health Tips from Army Medicine