It’s a brand new year. Have you made a resolution to yourself?
Resolutions can help us stay on track to reach a goal. If you truly want to be healthier this year, follow along as we present a different tip each week – simple, inexpensive steps that anyone can do EVERY DAY no matter what your current level of health and fitness.
Are you ready to start? Here’s Number One: Dental Floss
What you’ll need:
One spool of dental floss, mint or cinnamon waxed is quite nice.
Double-sided tape or stick-on velcro
Why: Stick the roll of floss to your TV’s remote control so you’ll remember to use it every day.
Look, we do many things in the course of the average day: work in or out of the house, manage budgets, meal plan, grocery shop, cook and clean. We have laundry and wardrobe concerns, and many of us transport kids from one activity to another. When day is done, we are often tired. Very tired.
How often do you floss your teeth?
It’s a simple thing, really. When you sit down to watch TV, wind a long piece of floss around your ring fingers and gently slide the remainder between your teeth in a “C” shape – first cleaning one tooth, then the other. Remember to gently but thoroughly clean under your gums. Ouch! Not too hard, though.
Sometimes nothing hurts when you floss, but you notice your gums bleed a little. Some people incorrectly believe when that happens, they should back off for a while and let the gums heal themselves. Just the opposite is true.
What do you think would happen if you never washed dishes again? Add more food to the plate but don’t worry about last-night’s smelly leftovers underneath. Between meals, leave your plate in a warm moist place and you may find some strange and fuzzy stuff starting to grow.
If not removed at least once every 24 hours, food debris mixes with saliva to form a bio-film. Bacteria normally present in your mouth can multiply out of control while they live and draw nutrients from the bio-film. When this happens, the bacteria give off toxins that irritate gum tissue, making it prone to bleeding.
Bleeding is a sign of infection under the gums called gingivitis. It’s painless, so it’s easy to ignore. Left untreated, it progresses to a destructive state. When gums pull away from the teeth they protect, they leave an even deeper pocket that allows more debris to collect.
Some of this debris mixes with the minerals in saliva and hardens against the sides of the teeth just under the gums. That’s tartar, otherwise known as calculus in the dental field. Only your dentist or hygienist can remove calculus using small, special instruments designed to remove the material without harming tooth or gums.
We’re often asked if it would be easier to take a pill to “cure” the infection. After all, it can’t be very serious if it’s just underneath the gums.
In reality, if the tissues of your mouth were stretched outside your mouth, they would cover an area roughly the size of your forearm from your wrist to your elbow. Any infection of that magnitude would certainly get your attention and send the average person to the nearest all-night clinic.
Just because you can’t always see periodontal (gum) disease doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Periodontal disease is related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, lung infections and respiratory disease. For pregnant women, periodontal disease may increase your risk for giving birth to a low birth-weight baby. In many ways, periodontal disease may be considered osteopenia or osteoporosis of the mouth!