While people are preparing to go on diets and increase exercise following the excesses of the holiday season, dental hygienists have provided a timely reminder not to overlook oral health when weighing up which aspects of overall physical and mental well-being to focus on early into the New Year.
Stressing the importance of oral health, Gerry Cool, president of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA), has told Digital Journal: “Good oral health is essential to total health and the key to a happy and productive life.” The health expert also adds: “Resolving to make oral health a priority in your daily life is an investment in your future.”
This focus is necessary because gum disease is a risk factor for serious life-threatening illnesses such as diabetes, lung and heart disease, and stroke. For example, many bacteria thrive on sugars, including glucose (the sugar linked to diabetes). When diabetes is poorly controlled, high glucose levels in mouth fluids help harmful bacteria to grow, increasing the chance of gum disease.
Covering people of all ages, Gerry Cool provides advice for people at different stages in life and these are shared with Digital Journal readers:
Infants and Toddlers up to age 3: The best advice is that parents should wipe their baby’s mouth and gums with a clean, wet cloth after feeding. In addition, it is important to brush the toddler’s teeth twice a day using water once their first teeth appear.
Children ages 3–5: Children should brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day and parents need to be on stand-by to help. Children should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Children ages 6‒12: Children should brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and try to clean in between their teeth daily. Parents should focus on healthy food choices.
Teenagers and Adults: It is important that people brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes at least twice a day. After this, the mouth should be rinsed with an antibacterial mouthwash (at least once a day). To help teeth tobacco use should be avoided and and foods that are low in sugar should be consumed.
Seniors: Older people should brush natural teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes twice a day and clean in between the teeth at least once a day. Dentures should be soaked daily.
Such advice is in keeping with proper oral hygiene being about more than clean teeth and fresh breath; it is one of the best ways to help maintain good overall health.