Smile, it’s a happy new year!

Have you made any resolutions for the New Year? And if you have, does taking care of your oral health factor into the equation for taking better care of your personal hygiene and health care?

Hopefully, 2011 will be the year for you that your smile is better and brighter than last year.

Memories of root canals and crowns, partial plates, orthodontia, and getting cavities filled at the dentist will remind you that proper care of your teeth and gums is critical to maintaining your overall health in the new year.

When was the last time you brushed and flossed? Hopefully it was right after your last meal or just after your shower this morning.

Studies of medical problems resulting from poor dental hygiene have been published that clearly indicate that the better your oral health, the greater your chances are to avoid major illnesses that can be life threatening.

According to the British Medical Journal, people who have poor oral hygiene have an increased risk of heart disease compared to those who brush their teeth twice a day. There has been increased interest in links between heart problems and gum disease over the past 20 years. While it has been established that inflammation in the body (including mouth and gums) plays an important role in the build up of clogged arteries, a 2010 study by the University of London investigated whether the number of times individuals brush their teeth has any bearing on the risk of developing heart disease.

The results confirmed and further strengthened the suggested association between oral hygiene and the risk of cardiovascular disease – furthermore inflammatory markers were significantly associated with a very simple measure of poor oral health behaviour.

Keeping your teeth healthy and cleaning twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cutting down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks can help you smile with confidence, but more importantly has overall health benefits, according to the British Dental Health Foundation.

The links between oral health problems such as gum disease and conditions like heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and, in the case of pregnant women, low birth weight babies, for instance, has all been well documented and is backed by robust scientific evidence.

With this in mind, it is important not to ignore any warning signs or concerns you have about your teeth – make an appointment to visit your dentist as soon as possible when signs of gum disease such as loose teeth or regular infections are present. It’s important that people learn to overcome their fears. A visit to the dentist could save their life. Fear of the dentist can have tragic consequences for individuals, but their experience is unnecessary.

Studies in the US also have definitely shown that maintaining good oral health is very important in the workplace. According to a report issued by Employee Benefit News, dental illness is the most common of all chronic health concerns and accounts for significant loss of workforce productivity and significant health care costs.

Studies show workers who get their dental care completed and maintain good oral health do far better on the job than those who do not. Oral health reduces the chance for emergency visits and the pain and discomfort that can harm a worker’s focus and confidence. Workers, confident about their family’s health, are more focused, productive and secure. Absenteeism for dentist visits, pain, discomfort and poor self-confidence harm production, employee confidence and quality of life across the corporate community.

Sugars
Tooth decay occurs when small holes (cavities) form in the tooth, according to Growing Kids. Plaque is also the culprit of tooth decay because when the bacteria living in plaque comes into contact with sugars in the food we eat, acid is formed that eats away at the tooth’s protective enamel. Ridding the teeth of plaque keeps teeth clear of tooth decay as well.

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Gum disease refers to any infection or inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth. Healthy gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when brushed. Unhealthy gums are open to the bacteria in plaque causing an inflammation called gingivitis. If the tissues that connect the teeth to the gums become involved, then it is called periodontitis.

Again, ridding the teeth of plaque will help guard against gum disease. Halitosis, the technical term for bad breath, is also the result of an unhealthy plaque build up. When the gums become infected or inflamed due to the bacteria in plaque, bad breath often results. Keeping the teeth and gums clean, and even brushing the tongue, will help alleviate this embarrassing condition.

Going to the dentist can be expensive, especially if you haven’t been for a while. Chances are you may need quite a bit of work, or maybe you just need a cleaning if you have been fortunate with good teeth. If you have trouble finding dental schemes that are affordable, one option is to consider a discount scheme that provides you immediate access to practitioners and no limit on use.

A membership for only a few pounds per month with Healthy Discounts is a programme that can help you save 20% on most all procedures, and an optical savings scheme is added at no extra cost through the Munroe Sutton company. You can find more at www.healthydiscounts.co.uk. That’s one way to get a healthier smile.

Good oral hygiene means getting into the routine of thoroughly cleaning your mouth at least once a day, though preferably after every meal.

With all these warnings about keeping your smile intact, here are a few tips for helping you get those pearly whites in tip top shape for the New Year:

* Brush your teeth for two full minutes with fluoride toothpaste and a brush that is small enough to manoeuvre around the inside, outside and top of every tooth in your mouth. Replace your brush every three months.
* Consider investing in an electric toothbrush if you feel you need more help.
* Floss after every brushing. If you have never flossed before, ask your dentist for advice. Remember that using just a small bit of dental floss to gently slide debris from between the teeth goes a long way towards eradicating plaque and keeping your mouth free from bacteria.
* Rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash that will get rid of small pieces of debris and help keep your gums healthy. If you find that an antiseptic mouthwash stings, ask your dentist to recommend a brand for more sensitive teeth and gums.
* If you are unable to clean your mouth directly after eating, consider chewing sugarfree gum. This will stimulate saliva in your mouth that will naturally help flush out any lingering remnants of food.

When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you! Be happy, be healthy. This year, 2011, provides everyone ample opportunities to start over and create ways to help get better in every way. Make your oral health a top priority in 2011. So smile, it’s a happy new year.

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