Chew It Over: What’s Essential About Dental Health?

What is the most important thing readers should know about oral care?
People don’t realize the importance of routine oral exams as it relates to their overall health. Research shows that more than 90 percent of systemic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, have oral manifestations.

What is the most common misconception about oral health?
The physician community realized a long time ago that they would have a lot more time to focus on patients if someone else was supporting their administrative functions. Solo dentists spend an average of 20 percent of their time doing non-clinical business activities like billing, which is why there is a major shift toward having third parties carry out these functions.

How does oral health impact overall wellness?
In addition to keeping their patients disease-free and pain free, modern dentistry has made incredible advances in cosmetic dentistry, implant placements and braces-free orthodontic treatments, such as Invisalign. All these advances have provided a powerful boost to both comfort and improved self-esteem. Today’s dentistry is much different than just a few decades ago.

What new technology in oral health are you most excited about?
Most dental offices now use digital x-ray machines. CT scanners are gaining usage, as are scanners to eliminate goopy impressions for crowns, etc. Of course, this technology comes at a price (literally), pushing dentists to enlist outside help in negotiating a better price from vendors.

Rick Workman, D.D.S., Immediate Past President, Association of Dental Support Organizations

Statistics show the majority of kids and adults go to the dentist at least once a year. But that’s not enough.

Consistent, proper oral care and maintenance can protect teeth and keep them healthy in the long-term.

Preventing problems

“Oral health is an essential component of overall health,” says Christine Wood, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD).

“Poor oral health can lead to serious infections, which can be painful, result in tooth loss and impact a person’s general health.”

Back to basics

Regular brushing, flossing and other dental basics can have a big impact on the teeth and gums.

“Almost all oral disease is preventable,” stresses Wood.

“Regular exposure to fluoride both in water and toothpaste, getting dental sealants on children’s teeth before they get cavities, avoiding tobacco products and getting the HPV vaccine are all ways people can keep their mouths healthy.”

Say “cheese”

The dental community is excited about new research on ways to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer.

Still the continual focus is on “preventing oral disease from occurring in the first place and managing existing disease throughout the lifetime,” says Kimberlie J. Yineman, RDH, BA and one of ASTDD’s board of directors.

Diet can impact oral health too.

Yineman recommends adults and kids increase their daily exposure to fluoride and reduce the frequency and amount of sugar they eat and drink. She also advises avoiding all forms of tobacco and illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine.