Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Year! A New You!

Happy 2012 to you! With the first week of the year coming to a close it’s time to talk about those resolutions! Some are kept faithfully and others seem to fall by the wayside after a few weeks. It’s OK. It happens to everyone. If getting healthier was at the top of your list, be assured that you are not alone! When it comes to health, diet and exercise are the key factors to getting and staying in shape (along with a positive attitude!). Looking and feeling good take work and dedication. If you are looking for a healthier and happier you in 2012, keep in mind that your dental health is just as important as the rest of you! Here are a few tips to get you started with “Dental Resolutions” you can incorporate into your 2012 healthy living goals:

1. Healthy teeth depend on good dietary habits!

In order to maintain good oral health,  you need to eat properly! What you eat and how often you eat are important factors. Foods such as milk, cheese, chicken, and nuts are thought to protect tooth enamel by providing calcium and phosphorous needed to remineralize teeth (a natural process by which minerals are redeposited into tooth enamel after being removed by acids).

Other choices include firm, crunchy fruits such as apples and pears, as well as vegetables. These foods have a high water content, which dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain and helps to stimulate the flow of saliva, this helps get rid of anything that may stick to your teeth!

2. Stay away from sodas and sweetened snacks throughout the day.

Poor food choices, such as sodas, candies, french fries, dried fruits, cakes, cookies, are harmful to your teeth and your waistline! These foods are full of sugars and acids that strip the tooth enamel and feed bacterial infections. If you are one of those people who enjoy sipping beverages throughout the day, switch to water or unsweetened teas. Sodas will stick to your teeth and slowly wear away the enamel on the outer layer - and once it’s gone you cannot get it back! This goes for snacking too. Limit the type of snacks throughout the day and you will maintain a healthy smile and weight.

BONUS TIP: Hydrating with water will make your skin supple, youthful, and bright! If you’re not a water drinker, add a cucumber for a refreshing flavored drink!

3. Cutting back on your vices.

One of the most listed New Years Resolutions is to quit smoking/ drinking/ etc. These vices, left unchecked, can create serious consequences to our health and the health of those around us. Smokers increase their risk for lung cancer as well as oral diseases, such as cancer of the gums and throat. Spit tobacco contains lots of sugars and causes rapid decay of the tooth and gum structure.

Studies have also shown that persons who abuse alcohol are at a high risk of having seriously decayed and infected gums and teeth. Additionally, drinking has joined smoking as an increased cancer risk. (Dentistry Today, p. 23, June 2003)

4. Good oral health improves not only your teeth, but your whole life!

Studies have shown that your overall health is directly connected to your oral health! Examples of this include:
  • Endocarditis. Gum disease and dental procedures that cut your gums may allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. If you have a weak immune system or a damaged heart valve, this can cause infection in other parts of the body — such as an infection of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis).
  • Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may be linked to oral bacteria, possibly due to chronic inflammation from periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease.
  • Pregnancy and birth. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. In addition, people who have inadequate blood sugar control may develop more-frequent and severe infections of the gums and the bone that holds teeth in place, and they may lose more teeth than do people who have good blood sugar control.
  • HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
  • Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — may be associated with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
  • Alzheimer's disease. Tooth loss before age 35 may be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
  • Other conditions. Other conditions that may be linked to oral health include Sjogren's syndrome — an immune system disorder — and eating disorders.
IMPORTANT!: Be sure to let your dentist know if you have had any changes in medication or a change in your overall health - especially if you have had any recent illnesses or have a chronic condition.

5. Stay on top of your health with regular check-ups!
Whether it’s your physician, optometrist, cardiologist, physical therapist, shrink, or dentist - it is important to be checked regularly by a professional so you stay free and clear of any problems that may not be detected or treated without their professional knowledge or equipment. Don’t put off going to the doctor if you suspect an issue. Those “instinctual” or “gut” feelings can be right sometimes.

REMEMBER: Finding the right health care provider for you is important! Check with your insurance provider, ask your friends for referrals, or search doctor review sites. If you do not feel comfortable with your doctor it can make your yearly office visits much less productive. Being able to ask honest questions is very important in the doctor/patient relationship!

Here’s to you in the New Year! May you achieve things great and small - and take a little time for yourself in the process. Keep an eye out for more posts in the coming weeks (my resolution is no less than two posts a month!). Upcoming topics include budgeting for your dental health, Sedation Dentistry, and much more. Keep smiling and visit our website for information on the types of services we provide for our patients!