Make Better Oral Health a Part of Your New Year’s Resolutions
Most New Year’s Resolutions are focused on becoming and staying healthier. Eating right, quitting smoking and exercising is all part of leading a healthier lifestyle that can prolong your life. Most people do not include taking care of their teeth as part of a healthier lifestyle, yet studies show that people who take care of and keep their teeth live on an average of 6.3 years longer than those who lose their teeth. Most adults lose their teeth to gum disease and studies now link gum disease to heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. The oral cavity is truly an indicator of your overall health and not taking care of oral disease can negatively affect your health.
Your dentist should also be regularly screening for oral cancer preferably with the Velscope which is a painless advanced oral cancer screening. When found at early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. Unfortunately at this time, the majority are found as late stage cancers, and this accounts for the very high death rate of about 45% at five years from diagnosis and not because they are hard to detect but because of a lack of awareness. Your dentist could save your life. You don’t have to drink or smoke to be at high risk either.
The problem with any oral disease including gum disease and decay is that it does not hurt until it gets very advanced and at that point it is often too late to save teeth. Regular cleanings and check-ups detect problems early and the treatment is often simple and inexpensive as compared to waiting. I often hear, “Well, I will just have them all pulled and get dentures when the time comes”, says Dr. Camacho. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. “A set of dentures that fits well only has about 30% of the chewing efficiency of natural teeth and that is the ideal scene”, states Dr. Camacho. If you have any sort of gag reflex, you will have a difficult time adjusting to dentures. Dentures also affect your sense of taste, speech in some instances and limit what and how you eat. There is also the constant infection that your body is battling for years until you reach the point of needing dentures.
There are implant supported dentures that can restore up to 90% chewing efficiency and that you don’t have to put in a glass by your bed at night but they are cost prohibitive for most. You will spend more than you would on a lifetime of just taking care of your teeth,
Getting your teeth cleaned twice a year, practicing good home care and taking care of problems when they are small is a lot less expensive than people think. If you are hitting the local coffeehouse chain a few times a week over the course of a year, you will spend more than you would getting your teeth cleaned and checked twice a year and handling an occasional small cavity. “People will spend more money on a new car than they ever would taking care of their teeth and six or seven years later get another new car and not think twice about it,” states Dr. Camacho. “Part of my job as a health care provider is to educate patients on the importance of taking care of their teeth and how it relates to their overall health.”
This year, make better oral health a part of your New Year’s resolution for improved overall health. We now know you can’t neglect your teeth and be healthy. The correlation between oral disease and overall health is well established.