Ester Marsh Column: Healthy Teeth and Gums – Salisbury Post

Healthy teeth and gums are just as important as a healthy body, mind and soul.

As we were born and raised in the Netherlands, we did not have city water that is enriched with fluoride and other minerals. I was also born and raised in a bakery where you could smell wonderfully fresh bread and pastries every day of the week. Genetically I don’t have strong teeth and they have been a challenge my whole life. Once we had teeth we went to the dentist every six months and I still go every six months (and more if problems arise). I have faced cavities, root canals, crowns and broken and cracking teeth my entire life. But I also know how important healthy teeth are to a healthy lifestyle, so I continue to brush and floss to keep them as healthy as possible.

About 5 years ago I went to Busby and Webb Orthodontics to get braces for my very crooked lower teeth. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner because I could have saved many of my teeth if I had had them straightened sooner. I am able to keep them clean so much better and the inside doesn’t get as stained as I used to when I have my coffee and my red wine because they were so crooked and it was difficult to get a brush in there. Even if my insurance didn’t pay for the braces because I’m an adult, it was totally worth getting my lower braces (the upper one was ok luckily) for a healthier, happier mouth!

Did you know how important healthy teeth and gums are? Good care of teeth and gums prevents bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. If you don’t take them, the normal bacteria that live in your mouth take over and break down into an acid that eats away at tooth enamel and causes tooth decay. If you’re like me, I just have genetic bad luck with my teeth. I brush at least twice a day and floss daily and have been to the dentist every six months my entire life, but I still had cavities and other dental-related problems. But I also think that if I hadn’t taken good care of her, I would already have a full denture. If you go to the dentist every six months, they can do a thorough cleaning that will remove the plaque that builds up on your teeth. Plaque build-up causes gum disease, making your gums red, swollen, and painful. It’s amazing how oral health can affect your whole body! Poor oral health can affect heart health and cardiovascular disease. The bad bacteria in your mouth can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation and infection. It has even been linked to preterm birth and low birth weight in babies, to name a few. So what can you do to keep your mouth and teeth healthy?

• Brush with toothpaste for at least two minutes at least twice a day

• Floss daily

• Eat a healthy diet and limit your sugar

• Replace the toothbrush every two to three months or when your brush bristles become frayed

• Regular dental check-ups, which are recommended every six months

• Avoid tobacco use

Many people are afraid of the dentist. I get it, I’ve had my fair share of the creepy ones. Find someone you trust and willing to listen. There are so many ways you can prevent aches and pains now to make your visit enjoyable or manageable for some. For years I went to Dr. Hartung, but he is now retired and has passed his business to Dr. Dave Rosenthal sold and the practice is now called Town Creek Dental (you can call them at 704-762-9669 if you need a fabulous dentist). I had my first appointment with him last week. I feel very comfortable with him and he was very thorough. I am absolutely confident that he will take good care of my teeth and mouth. I’ve had quite a few dentists in my life who weren’t like that, and my teeth (and wallet) paid the price. Many dentists, including Dr. Hartung and now Dr. Rosenthal, today help many people who were afraid of the dentist to feel good and help them to have healthier teeth and a healthier mouth. So don’t be afraid, whether it’s your dental exam or getting braces for a healthier, more beautiful mouth. A healthy lifestyle includes healthy teeth and gums!

Ester H. Marsh is the Director of Health and Fitness for the JF Hurley Family YMCA.

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