Oral health – it’s probably not something you think about from day to day. Our minds are usually far from the task at hand during the twice-daily brush. We rely on a letter to remind us when we’re due for a check-up at the dentist – and some of us rarely go at all! Either way, it’s no big deal, right? The World Dental Federation would disagree. According to their statistics, a staggering 90% of the global population will suffer from a preventable oral disease within their lifetime.
This year, they have brought together nearly 75 countries to participate in World Oral Health Day on March 20th, with the aim of encouraging the heath community to take action and promote awareness of oral health and hygiene.
So what can you do to improve your own oral health?
Well, plenty. Just thinking about your teeth, tongue and gums can prompt you to care for them more thoroughly and encourage you to take the time to give them some loving.
First, the obvious. Brush at least twice a day, and do it properly. Even if you’re in a hurry, try and take at least two minutes to cover all the bases until your teeth are smooth and your mouth tastes fresh. If you’re lousy at counting, or just impatient, try setting a timer next to the bathroom counter and get strict with it.
Choose a toothbrush based on its size and firmness, not just its price point or attractive colour. A slightly smaller head will allow you to get deep into the back recesses of your gums, and slightly softer bristles will be far kinder on the sensitive tissues that surround your teeth.
Sugar is not your friend, no matter how nice you are to each other. It can be awfully hard to avoid sugar in all its forms, particularly with so much of it hidden away in packaged food and drink, so start by kicking the obvious habits: regular soft drinks, fruit juices and sugary snacks. These are the biggest culprits of cavities and decays, and they work by softening tooth enamel to leave the underlying tooth exposed and vulnerable. We all need the odd indulgence, however, so when you are exposed to a burst of sugar, rinse your mouth thoroughly and follow up with a really vigorous brush as soon as you can.
Most toothpastes will get the job done, but dental experts recommend fluoridated toothpaste, which hardens the tooth enamel and helps to prevent decay. For young children, take care in selecting a product that is appropriate for their age and dental requirements.
Daily flossing is a fantastic habit to get into. Imagine all of those tiny little lumps of food lurking where your brush can’t get them. They break down, damage the surface they are attached to, and of course – they start to smell. Then it becomes everybody’s business. Since this is one of the more difficult changes to adhere to, try keeping your floss right next to your toothbrush and you’ll be more inclined to pick it up at the end of the day.
Sports injuries and accidents can happen to anyone, but we can predict when an injury is more likely to happen and take precautions accordingly. If you play contact sport, for example, a mouthguard is a simple and effective way to reduce your chances of chipping or breaking your pearly whites. Some sport codes also regulate the use of full-face helmets, which has seen facial injuries in these sports dramatically reduced. If you do have an accident that results in your teeth loosening or being knocked out, you can increase your chances of saving them. Physically holding the teeth in place against your gum can keep the nerves in play until you seek medical attention.
Most importantly, see your dentist for your recommended check-ups, and don’t ignore pain or bleeding in the mouth!
Dental care – it’s so expensive!
And that’s probably the biggest reason that so many of us delay our dental care, sometimes until it’s too late to intervene and save a tooth. Preventative dental care is hugely important in reducing problems down the track, and this is why our check-ups and cleans are so important. With the right ancillary (“extras”) insurance coverage, these scheduled appointments (shown as “general dental” in your extras list), are far less financially burdensome than they otherwise would be if you were picking up the entire bill. Some providers may even completely cover preventative care and cleaning given the right level of coverage.
With check-ups and fillings being the usual care regime for younger children, the main expense for an adolescent (or rather, their parents!) is likely to be orthodontics. Here, overbites, under-bites and side-bites are partnered with ‘Metal Mouth’ in order to be transformed into a perfectly-aligned grill. It’s always worth it, but what is it worth? It could be thousands. Ouch! The appropriate coverage can work towards taking the sting out of those ongoing bills so you and your family can concentrate your resources in far more enjoyable areas.
In later years, you can expect to carry around the signs of a lifetime of dental habits – be they good or otherwise. But our teeth do require more care at this stage of life, especially for those on certain medications that tend to stain and weaken the teeth. At some point, many of us will need to give up the ghost of our former calcified friends and embrace dentures. We don’t have to celebrate this step, but Major Dental coverage may be able to significantly reduce the financial impact that this step will have.
Now that you’re well versed in the sorts of dental care issues that affect you and your family through the various stages of life, check out the World Oral Health Day site and see what your local health providers are doing to promote healthy smiles everywhere. For more helpful information on how you can take actionable steps to good health, be sure to bookmark comparethemarket.com.au’s growing range of health guides.