LPM Staff

A note from the tooth fairy

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Do you know  you can start teaching your niños to brush their teeth as young as age one? Let’s hope you would practice what you preach. Just because you’re a grownup doesn’t mean you’re exempt from good dental habits yourself.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. It used to be a one-day observance initiated by the American Dental Association (ADA) back in 1949. It expanded to a week in 1955 and then to a month in 1981. The idea, of course, is to raise awareness about the importance of oral health – but not just children need to pay attention.

More and more clinical studies are discovering a strong connection between dental hygiene and our overall health. Direct links have been made between oral bacteria and oral infections and serious systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes complications.

Are you at high risk of either of these serious health conditions? You may want to bone up on why it’s a good idea to take care of your teeth and gums. Get informed, get in good dental habits. Then you can preach what you practice.

Besides, don’t you think the tooth fairy would rather get nice and healthy little baby teeth?

Oral hygiene and your heart

According to www.harvard.edu, scientists have been exploring a link between periodontitis (erosion of tissue and bone that support the teeth) and cardiovascular complications. Several species of bacteria that cause periodontitis have been found in the atherosclerotic plaque in arteries in the heart and elsewhere, which can lead to a heart attack.

Although this link between dental hygiene and heart disease has not been proven, it makes sense. We know that the billions of bacteria that live in the mouth most definitely affect the health of teeth and gums. When you chew food or brush your teeth, it releases bacteria into the bloodstream, some of which can harm blood vessels or cause blood clots by releasing protein-like toxins found in artery walls or the bloodstream.How the immune system reacts to these toxins can harm vessel walls or make blood coagulate more easily. It’s also a possibility that inflammation in the mouth triggers inflammation throughout the body, including in the arteries, where it can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Regardless of no solid proof of the connection between dental health and heart disease, it’s still smart to take care of your teeth. Brush and floss, and get to the dentist at least once or twice a year. It can only benefit you, and if your heart gains from this healthy habit, all the better.

Dental health and diabetes

Scientific research vetted by Delta Dental Plans Association’s National Scientific Advisory Committee has shown that diabetics are more prone to periodontal or gum disease more so than non-diabetics. In other words, individuals with diabetes get periodontal disease more easily, and it gets worse faster than it does in non-diabetics. Emerging science indicates that periodontal disease may also be one of the reasons individuals get Type 2 and gestational diabetes. Here are a few solid incentives for maintaining good oral hygiene:

• It’s important for individuals with diabetes to lower the amount of sugar in their blood over the long term. This allows better control of the disease.

• If a person’s gums are healthy, they may not get diabetes at all, or not get it so soon.

• A healthy mouth means less chance of developing serious health problems often associated with diabetes.

Assess your risk of dental disease at www.deltadental.com.

The joy of brushing

The key to getting children into the healthy habit of brushing their teeth is to make it fun rather than a chore. If you’re enthusiastic about brushing, your children will be enthusiastic. Children are great emulators. They tend to want to do the things that their parents do, so set the healthy example and your children will follow. Here are a few ideas to try with your niños:

1. Let your child help brush your teeth. Laugh along to make it fun for little Sergio. Then allow him to “brush” his own teeth. You’ll want to follow up and properly brush your child’s teeth (“Okay, mijito, my turn to brush your teeth!”) until he or she can do it on their own.

2. Time to brush Garfield’s teeth! Have your child brush a favorite toy’s teeth then his or her own teeth. Remember: Always allow them to “brush,” then follow up by brushing your child’s teeth correctly.

3. Un poquito de pasta. Use only a pea-size amount of toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush. Too much can create excessive foam and make it difficult for your child to brush.

4. Spit it out, Consuelito! Make sure that your child gets in the habit of spitting out the toothpaste. Swallowing toothpaste on a regular basis can lead to fluorosis, a condition where spots may appear on your child’s teeth.

5. Use pasta de niños. Most toothpastes contain strong flavors like peppermint that adults barely notice but can sting young mouths. Get toothpaste that your child will actually use that doesn’t contain a lot of sugar (yes, many brands of toothpaste have sugar as an ingredient).

6. ¡Fiesta en el baño! If Joey still doesn’t want to brush his teeth, try this strategy: Make a big deal out of brushing your own teeth, as if it’s something you’re excited about. Invite siblings or your partner to join in the fun. Laugh and whoop it up as you head to the bathroom. Soon your child will want to get in on the festividades.

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