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Yes, Oral Hygiene Matters

Dental Care

Here are 3 reasons to brush, floss and visit the dentist.

Much like preventative health visits, regular trips to see a dentist can help head off potential problems with your teeth. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only 64 percent of American adults go once a year. Dental hygiene is about more than just having gleaming white teeth — it can be an indicator of overall health.

Eun Sub Jang, DDS, dental medical director for Adventist Health Clear Lake, shares three common ailments of the mouth and how to treat them.

Tooth decay

When bacteria build up, tooth enamel can begin to break down. Tooth decay can cause pain, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, and staining. “If tooth decay isn’t treated, it can form holes in the tooth known as cavities and even get infected, which could lead to tooth loss,” Dr. Jang explains.

How to treat it: Brush and rinse with fluoride-based products at home and use dental floss. Fluoride treatments at the dentist can help protect tooth enamel. If decay has led to a cavity, your dentist may remove the decay and place a filling.

Gum disease

Periodontitis, or gum disease, happens when a person neglects brushing and flossing. This leads to the accumulation of plaque, which can become calcified and make the gums swollen, red and inflamed. If untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and increase your risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease.

How to treat it: “Brush your teeth for a full two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and clean between your teeth with floss,” Dr. Jang advises.

Halitosis

Everyone has bad breath occasionally, but a stench that won’t go away might indicate an underlying issue. “Bad breath, or halitosis, could be caused by poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, tobacco use or a reaction to certain medications,” Dr. Jang says.

How to treat it: Dr. Jang recommends starting with good dental hygiene — brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.

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