Dental and Oral Health Center
Dental and Oral Health Center Overview
Your mouth is a mirror for your general health.
Dental and oral health goes beyond healthy teeth; oral health is integral to your overall health and well-being. Oral diseases can cause serious health problems and be very expensive to correct, especially if they're not caught early.
Even more importantly, dental disease can cause health problems that go way beyond the mouth. In fact, research has shown that there are some types of oral disease that may lead to serious health problems such as:
Although there have been dramatic improvements over the past 50 years including water fluoridation and the development of dental sealants, many people still suffer from dental diseases. This is especially unfortunate considering that there are so many inexpensive and effective methods to protect your teeth. In fact, dental and oral diseases are considered to be a "silent epidemic" in the United States according to the Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health in May, 2000.
Knowing more about more about your dental and oral health this is one of the first steps you can take toward improving your overall health.
What You Can Do to Maintain Good Oral Health
Drink fluoridated water and use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride's protection against tooth decay works at all ages.
Take care of your teeth and gums. Thorough tooth brushing and flossing to reduce dental plaque can prevent gingivitis—the mildest form of gum disease.
Avoid tobacco. In addition to the general health risks posed by tobacco, smokers have 4 times the risk of developing gum disease compared to non-smokers. Tobacco use in any form—cigarette, pipes, and smokeless (spit) tobacco—increases the risk for gum disease, oral and throat cancers, and oral fungal infection (candidiasis). Spit tobacco containing sugar increases the risk of tooth decay. Additional information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/CDNR/.
Limit alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol is also a risk factor for oral and throat cancers. When used alone, alcohol and tobacco are risk factors for oral cancers, but when used in combination the effects of alcohol and tobacco are even greater.
Eat wisely. Adults should avoid snacks full of sugars and starches. Limit the number of snacks eaten throughout the day. The recommended five-a-day helping of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables stimulates salivary flow to aid remineralization of tooth surfaces with early stages of tooth decay.
Visit the dentist regularly. Check-ups can detect early signs of oral health problems and can lead to treatments that will prevent further damage, and in some cases, reverse the problem. Professional tooth cleaning (prophylaxis) also is important for preventing oral problems, especially when self-care is difficult.
Diabetic patients should work to maintain control of their disease. This will help prevent the complications of diabetes, including an increased risk of gum disease.
If medications produce a dry mouth, ask your doctor if there are other drugs that can be substituted. If dry mouth cannot be avoided, drink plenty of water, chew sugarless gum, and avoid tobacco and alcohol.
Have an oral health check-up before beginning cancer treatment. Radiation to the head or neck and/or chemotherapy may cause problems for your teeth and gums. Treating existing oral health problems before cancer therapy may help prevent or limit oral complications or tissue damage.
NetWellness Dental Health Topics
NetWellness has a number of dental health topics that contain original information and experts who are available to answer your questions.
Oral Health for Adults (CDC)
US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General. Oral health in America: A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research; 2000,
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Last Reviewed: Jul 30, 2014