Posted February 17, 2011
Your smile is often the first impression you give to others. That’s why it is important to take good care of your teeth and gums. But did you know that good oral health habits are also critical to your overall health?
Regular brushing and flossing help keep under control the buildup of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the outside of and between your teeth. Daily brushing and flossing remove two-thirds of the plaque and bacteria on your teeth. That is why it is important to schedule regular dental checkups to have your oral health reviewed and the remainder of the plaque removed.
If plaque is left untreated, it can lead to tooth decay (cavities) or gum diseases, which can result in tooth loss and other serious health issues. Research studies have demonstrated that untreated plaque may enter the bloodstream and contribute to the development of heart disease, strokes and pancreatic cancer; create complications for individuals with diabetes; and increase risks of preterm births and babies with low birth weights.
Unfortunately, many Americans do not take care of their teeth:
- Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease for American kids, affecting more than one-fourth of those ages 2-5 and half of those ages 12-15; parents often miss work to care for kids’ oral health needs
- One-fourth of U.S. adults age 65 and older have lost all of their teeth
- Each year about 35,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed
- Employees miss approximately 164 million work hours annually due to oral health problems
Many Americans do not schedule regular dental appointments for a checkup and cleaning because they do not have access to insurance. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that “access to dental insurance is a strong predictor of regular use of a dental professional.”
Employees with dental benefits are:
- 49 percent more likely to have visited the dentist in the last six months
- 42 percent more likely to schedule a dental checkup and cleaning at least once a year
For lifelong good oral and overall health, remember to take good care of your teeth and gums!
These are some of the topics addressed by Karen Gustin, senior vice president at Ameritas Group, Lincoln, Neb., during the Lifetime Television show, “The Balancing Act.” To watch the program and learn how your oral health affects your overall health, click this link.
How many times each day do you brush your teeth? How often do you have your teeth cleaned and checked? If you are interested in dental insurance, contact Ameritas Group for information. – Karen Gustin, Ameritas Group