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A healthy smile isn’t just about appearance. Dental health, sometimes referred to as oral health, plays a big role in your overall well-being. However, many people don’t visit a dentist regularly or take proper care of their teeth, which can lead to serious dental disease.

The Importance of Good Oral Health

Research has shown that there is a link between oral disease and health problems such as:

• Diabetes 
• Heart disease and stroke 
• Respiratory diseases 
• Premature and low weight babies 

Tooth decay, also called dental caries or cavities, is an uncomfortable condition that can lead to serious infections. Cavities are caused by plaque, which forms on the teeth every day and contains most of the germs that cause caries. If you don’t properly remove plaque with brushing and flossing, you could end up with a cavity that you need to have filled by your dentist.

Gum disease is another common dental problem that begins with plaque. If you don’t remove plaque with brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by your dentist. Tartar can lead to an infection as the gums attach to the teeth, causing gingivitis (early stage gum disease). As gingivitis worsens and causes infection, gum disease symptoms may become more noticeable, such as a change of colour in the gums or bleeding when brushing or flossing.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer belongs to the group of oropharyngeal cancers. It occurs two times more than cervical cancer, and three times the number of people die from oral cancer. Oral cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in the mouth, tongue, lips or throat. It most commonly affects people over the age of 45, and can be successfully treated if caught early. Risk factors for oral cancer include using tobacco, heavy alcohol consumption, oral sex, poor diet and genetics. Don’t wait until you have symptoms of a dental disease to visit your dentist – go twice a year to maintain optimal dental health!

Talk to your family physician if you'd like more information on dental health.

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Print this Action Plan and check off items that you want to discuss with your healthcare provider

  • Research has shown that there is a link between oral disease and health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases and premature and low weight babies.

  • If you don’t properly remove plaque with brushing and flossing, you could end up with a cavity that you need to have filled by your dentist. Cavities are caused by plaque, which forms on the teeth every day a disease is another common dental problem that begins with plaque. If you don’t remove plaque with brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by your dentist. Tartar can lead to an infection as the gums attach to the teeth, causing gingivitis (early stage gum disease).

  • Oral cancer belongs to the group of oropharyngeal cancers. It occurs two times more than cervical cancer, and three times the number of people die from oral cancer. Oral cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in the mouth, tongue, lips or throat. It most commonly affects people over the age of 45, and can be successfully treated if caught early.

  • Don’t wait until you have symptoms of a dental disease to visit your dentist – go twice a year to maintain optimal dental health!

Adherence:
Adhering to your medications, prescribed exercises or lifestyle changes (such as dietary changes, smoking cessation, reduced alcohol consumption, etc.) is essential to improving health outcomes successfully. Compliance to any prescribed treatment is the number one thing you can do to ensure positive changes and optimal treatment outcomes.

 

Regular visits to the dentist are essential if you want to prevent cavities and dental diseases. Your dentist can help you understand proper oral health care by brushing and flossing, in-office and at-home whitening options, oral cancer screening, traumatic injuries to the mouth, cavities, root canal therapy, night guards and fluoride treatments.

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