Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Thoughts on Dental Health

We invite everyone to the next scrumptious Pathfinder Produce at the Village Commons, Edmeston, on Thursday, August 10, from 1 to 5 p.m.. We're serving up some of the freshest, most-flavorful veggies through the efforts of our Adult Day Services members, who put such loving care into our Pathfinder Hoop House produce.

This coming Saturday, we invite everyone to enjoy the continuing 20th annual Summer Concert Series at the Pathfinder Pavilion at 7 p.m.  Our next concert on August 12 features a satisfying serving of great songs by the band Stone Soup.  The Summer Concert Series is made possible with public funds from the Chenango Arts Council’s Decentralization Grants Program, a re-grant program of the NYS Council on the Arts, with support from Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature.

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I've noticed in my Facebook feeds that one of our regional health insurers, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, has been recommending people improve their dental health by adding regular flossing to their gym workouts.  The part that really grabbed my attention was that they cite that a large majority of people don't take this one easy step in support of their overall health.

It got me to wondering, “So, what is the state of dental health in America”? According to a 2014 survey, most Americans brush twice a day, but only 4-in-10 floss each day. The survey article also ferrets out other poor habits, like not brushing long enough (for at least 2-3 minutes), not brushing correctly, or cleaning at the wrong time.

Some web sources suggest that the plaque bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease are suspected in having a role in other inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and dementia. Last August, there was a brouhaha in the press, as the Associated Press called into question the American Dental Association’s research studies on flossing's effectiveness. In response, the ADA stated, “… while the average benefit (for flossing) is small and the quality of the evidence is very low (meaning the true average benefit could be higher or lower), given that periodontal disease is estimated to affect half of all Americans, even a small benefit may be helpful.”

But perhaps there's another way to look at the whole dental health picture, rather than the direct health consequences. There are many online articles that indicate poor dental health plagues families that can't afford regular dental visits.  One article from 2015 reveals the relationship between poor dental care for Greek children during that country's financial crisis, and other societal consequences, like subsequent poor eating habits.

The article says, “Doctors and scientists have long associated dental health with economic development, largely because good teeth are correlated with access to education. Pain from dental diseases keeps children in many developing countries from their studies, according to the World Health Organisation.”  Further, there are many other articles that indicate that if you have poor teeth, your job prospects may be limited, and if you are working, your dental health can affect job performance.

So it’s clear that dental health matters, and it’s important to take proactive steps to improve one's health, like better brushing techniques.  (I’d never heard of the Modified Bass method before, who knew??!)  This article from the Mayo Clinic offers some tips, including brushing techniques, advice on plaque removal, and mouth warning signs that shouldn't be ignored.  There are things like candy and sugary/acidic drinks that are to be avoided, as there are foods that are beneficial for teeth– calcium-rich foods, vitamin-packed crunchy veggies, etc.  There are some surprises in this article from the Carefree Dental website.

Finally, one may reconsider investing in better toothbrushes. Electric or ultrasonic toothbrushes are considered more effective and are have come down in price from several years ago.  And even manual toothbrushes have been given a redesign to do a better job, and are now available now at online outlets.

Until next time, keep smilin’!


Lori

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