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home : health : health May 23, 2016

3/8/2011 1:40:00 PM
Dental care is key to overall health
By Jeff Spry

Developing a simple plan for oral hygiene is a vital component of an overall wellness program that will reduce medical costs and other complications resulting from poor food digestion, oral pain and gum disease. Regular checkups, exams and a proper regimen of flossing and brushing helps to accomplish those goals.

As basic as it may sound, it all begins with daily brushing. And it pays to have a professional show you how to do it properly.

"To be honest with you, I didn't learn to brush my teeth properly till I went to dental school," says Ben Crockett, DDS, of Sisters Dental.

Dentists suggest brushing your teeth gently using short strokes with just enough pressure to feel the bristles against the gums. Replace your toothbrush every two to three months or when the bristles are worn, and always buy a new one after you've had a cold. Move the toothbrush around so as to clean all the teeth, especially those in the back. Use a fluoride toothpaste and avoid toothbrushes with hard bristles, which can damage your gums.

Oral cancer screenings during a dental exam may rule out any immediate or dangerous problems. Your doctor will check your neck and oral tissues for bumps, red or white patches or recurring sore areas. This type of screening for early changes in oral tissue can help detect cancer at an initial stage when it can be more successfully treated. Low-grade infection can often be traced to poor oral health.

"Your mouth houses a lot of bacteria," Crockett notes. "Most Americans (75 percent) have periodontal disease going on in their mouth."

That can have a deleterious effect on your overall health - even prenatally.

Doctors and hygienists can make suggestions during checkups for preventative and corrective measures such as dental sealants or night guards to protect against bruxism and TMJ. For those suffering from gingivitis or more severe gum disease, they may recommend full mouth debridement with gingival curettage or the more in-depth laser osseous treatment. These measures can be instrumental in preventing further bone loss and helping you to keep your natural teeth.

The Brace Place specializes in orthodontics with offices in Bend, Redmond, Prineville, La Pine and a new office planned for Sisters in May, providing corrective braces and mouth protection devices for kids, teens and adults.

Dr. Vincent Quas has been practicing for over 30 years and is a major advocate for a proactive approach to oral care.

"Tooth position problems and misalignment increase with age like a cavity worsens with time," he explained. "Small issues grow into major complications when they get older. We like to see children between 7 and 9 to prevent big orthodontics problems in their teens and early adult life. Teeth problems affect joints and muscles and create excessive tooth wear."

Studies indicate that people who are happy with their smile are more confident, happier and more successful than those who have problems with their teeth - either dental or orthodontic.

More than 44 percent of all U.S. 5-year-olds show some level of tooth decay. As a result, more pediatricians and family physicians are now recommending fluoride varnish and dental assessments, beginning when teeth first appear.

Tom Rheuben, DDS, has been treating kids and adults in Sisters for 18 years.

"We are very proud of how well the children - and parents - in our practice take care of their teeth," Rheuben says. "While we do see kids with cavities in our office, the incidence of tooth decay is much lower than national or state averages.

"We take time to educate each patient - children and parents - about what causes tooth decay and what we can do to prevent cavities. We help patients modify their brushing, flossing and diet to improve their oral health."

While you're hitting the gym and watching your diet, visit your dentist, too.

It's just as critical to your well-being.

Editor Jim Cornelius contributed to this report.

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