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Protect Those Pearly Whites

“Smile and the world smiles with you.” Lyrics from this old song hold true today.



A smiling person appears pleasant, sincere, sociable and confident, which can go a long way in engaging employees, customers, suppliers and others you interact with when running a small business.



With a healthy mouth that’s free of painful cavities and gum disease, you can eat properly, sleep well and concentrate at work.



Unfortunately, because of recession-related financial problems, 36 percent of Americans have cut back on doctor visits, reports an American Optometric Association survey. Which types of health visits are they reducing? Sixty-three percent of respondents cited visits to a dentist.


That’s no laughing matter. This shortsighted approach to taking care of your teeth, mouth and smile may well have long-term consequences. Unattended oral problems like cavities, plaque and gum disease can lead to complicated, costly and painful dental problems.  And that’s not good for you—or your business.



This report will help you find ways to protect your teeth, your smile and your health.


Healthy Teeth, Healthy Body


If you’re not tending to your dental needs today, your whole body may regret it in the future.



We’ve all heard of the mind-body connection, but many of us don’t ever consider the mouth-body connection. Studies indicate that poor oral hygiene has been linked with various health issues:

  • Cardiovascular problems such heart disease, blockages of blood vessels and strokes
  • The development of infections like pneumonia
  • Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis


Fortunately, resolving to take better care of your dental health doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort, but it does take commitment.



The first step to a healthy mouth is good oral hygiene. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the following:

  • Brush your teeth and tongue after each meal or at least twice each day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are worn or frayed.
  • Use floss or an interdental cleaner daily to clear out food particles and decay–causing bacteria that can linger between teeth and under the gum line where toothbrush bristles can’t reach
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings, X-rays and oral exams


A visit to the dentist can mean more than getting a cleaning or cavity filled.  A 2009 ADA study indicated dentists can play a potentially lifesaving role in health care by identifying patients at risk of fatal heart attacks and referring them to physicians for further evaluation.



Dangers Lurk In Your Food And Drink


One easy place to start in improving your oral hygiene is with the things you eat and drink each day.


If you enjoy keeping a candy bowl at your desk or hitting the vending machine for an afternoon pick-me-up, you may want to reconsider your snack choices.


To prevent tooth decay, The Columbia University College of Dental Medicine offers these additional tips.


  • Avoid poor choicesCandy, cookies, cakes, crackers, muffins, potato chips, pretzels, hard candy and dried fruits are some of the worst food choices you can make. Many of these foods are high in calories and low in nutritional value, and they all contain bacteria causing sugars.


  • Find healthier alternativesIf you can’t resist gum or mints, stick with the sugar-free variety. Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. Try a piece with xylitol—a natural, sugarless sweetener—listed as the main ingredient.  Xylitol, which has been approved by the ADA and the Food and Drug Administration, not only freshens your breath, but it can also reduce the risk of cavities. The California Dental Association recommends enjoying the gum or mints three to five times daily, for a total intake of five grams.


  • Avoid liquid culpritsThe citric acid in drinks like lemonade, iced tea, sports drinks, and regular and diet soda has been found to soften tooth enamel and contribute to the formation of cavities. So, it’s best to use these thirst-quenchers in moderation. Wait at least 30 minutes to allow softened enamel to re-harden before brushing your teeth. If you’re a die-hard enthusiast, ask your dentist about acid-neutralizing, re-mineralizing toothpaste to help re-harden soft enamel. Using a straw can help, too, because you’ll reduce the amount of acidity that washes over tooth enamel.


Banish Bad Breath


Are prospects cutting your sales calls short? Are employees taking a couple of steps back during a conversation?  These are sure signs that you have bad breath, or halitosis. It can be embarrassing to you and offensive to others. Coffee, tobacco, alcohol, onions and garlic are well-known culprits.



Brushing and flossing regularly will surely help, but there’s more you can do.

  • Try mouthwashKeep a bottle of mouthwash in your desk. Taking a swish now and again may temporarily control or reduce bad breath, rinse away food particles and diminish bacteria. However, swishing won’t necessarily get to the root of any underlying problem.
  • Drink like a camelSimply increasing your water intake can often alleviate dry mouth, which is another contributing factor to bad breath.
  • Talk to your dentistDry mouth may also be caused by periodontal gum disease, plaque buildup, various over-the-counter and prescribed medications or vitamin supplements. It can also be a warning sign of a medical disorder, such as a respiratory infection, sinusitis, postnasal drip, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, or a liver or kidney ailment. So, if the problem persists it’s wise to consult with your dentist.


Learn To Manage Stress


We all know that stress, anxiety and depression cause sleepless nights, which can result in reduced productivity and focus.  They can also take their toll on dental health.



For example, anxiety, stress and sleep disorders can lead to bruxism, which is teeth clenching or grinding. The grinding can result in a sore jaw, headaches, or even loose or fractured teeth.  Dentists in the U.S. prescribe an estimated 3 to 4 million night guards or splints annually in an effort to combat teeth grinding, otherwise known as bruxism. While the devices may protect teeth, they do not necessarily remedy the underlying cause.


In a statement, Dr. David Cochran, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, says “During periods of high stress such as what we are currently experiencing in this economic climate, individuals should seek healthy sources of relief such as regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and getting adequate sleep. Doing so can help maintain a healthy mouth, and potentially help ward off other negative health concerns.”


Some calming techniques such as mediation and yoga may help. The Bruxism Association also recommends avoiding stimulants like alcohol and caffeine for several hours before bedtime to promote better sleep.


Draconian Dentistry Is A Thing Of The Past


Before dentistry was a profession, barbers and general physicians performed procedures. Can you imagine?


Thankfully, dentistry has evolved, especially during the past decade. New drugs, methods and technologies can mean less painful procedures. They can also mean reduced amount of time spent in the dental chair and sometimes quicker recovery periods.



So, what’s changed?

  • Air abrasion or dental lasers can often be used to treat cavities without the need for a needle or drill
  • The painful Novocain shot has been replaced with electronic, inhalant anesthesia and other anesthetics that don’t cause the same discomfort
  • Attractive white resin has replaced metal fillings


With all of those changes and more, there’s little need to avoid dentist appointments for fear of pain and suffering.


A Little Vanity Can Pay Off


Perhaps the greatest advances have been made in the area of cosmetic dentistry.



In fact, a survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that:

  • About 98 percent of Americans say that a pearly-white smile is an important social asset
  • About 74 percent believe that an unattractive smile can hurt a person’s chances for career success


And now you have more options for preserving and enhancing your smile than ever before.


  • Try teeth whiteningMany people try rubbing their teeth with strawberries, the inside of an orange peel, or lemon juice and salt, but there is no documented proof that these home remedies work. Instead, consider a more formal whitening system. It may be wise to avoid commercial teeth whitening service providers as they are coming under legislative scrutiny. Instead, seek treatment in your dentist’s office or try one of today’s user-friendly at-home bleaching treatments.


  • Braces aren’t just for kidsStraight teeth are more attractive, easier to clean, more likely to last longer and simply function better. Clear ceramic braces and concealed braces that have brackets that attach to the back of your teeth reduce their visibility.


And special wiring can reduce the length of treatment. Many adults believe that’s something to smile about. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists reports that one in five orthodontic patients is an adult.



  • Consider porcelain veneers or tooth bondingThese custom techniques can be used to whiten stained or discolored teeth, close gaps, and repair chips, imperfections and misaligned teeth. It’s best to consult with your dentist to learn the pros, cons and expense of each treatment.


Taking time each day to tend to your oral health and taking advantage of today’s dental treatments will pay lifetime dividends.



You’ll have better health and feel better about yourself, too. That’s good for you and for your small business.


For More Information


Learn more about oral health and cosmetic procedures by visiting these Web sites.



American Academy of Periodontology



American Association of Orthodontists



American Dental Association



Columbia University College of Dental Medicine

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