Heallthy Woman smiling and stretchingThe Canadian Dental Association has named April “Oral Health Month”.

At Sunnyside Dental, we want to make sure you know just how important this aspect of your personal care can be.

Active older couple rides bikes and laughsHere in the Okanagan, it’s pretty easy to follow a healthy lifestyle. With so many opportunities to get outside, get fit, eat farm-fresh produce, and simply relax, living healthy is part of the package.

And…it’s contagious!

You’ve been buying organic. You’ve been exercising. You’ve been taking some time to de-stress. You’re working on a healthier you. Looks like you’ve caught the bug.

That’s excellent! But have you remembered your oral health?

Your mouth is the gateway to your body, and taking care of it can protect the rest of you from infections, diseases, and more.

A little bit of effort will help you to maintain healthy gums, strong teeth, good breath, and more. Let’s talk about how you can keep your oral health in great shape, so that you can focus on all of those other goals that will make you happier and healthier this year.

Brush and Floss

This is pretty straightforward. Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss every evening before bed.

Brushing removes bacteria, sugars, and acids that accumulate in your mouth during the day. These tiny things can lead to pretty big issues if ignored. Bacteria turns the sugars in your mouth to acidic plaque, which can destroy the enamel on your teeth. Enamel doesn’t regenerate, so once it’s lost, it’s gone! That makes your teeth and gums vulnerable to disease and decay. Stop that train: just brush and floss, it’s easy!

Cut Back on Sugars and Acids

This is a great way to get your whole body healthy, and, clearly, it starts with your mouth. (Just don’t put them in your mouth, and they won’t make their way to your arteries…).

Sugary foods, as mentioned, are great breeders of plaque. Remember that carbohydrates are also sugars, and the enzymes in your mouth don’t really discriminate between those sugars and, say, candy or soda.
Foods that are highly acidic (citrus juice, coffee) skip the Bacteria+Sugar=Acid conversion and go straight to the Enamel Erosion problem.

If you do eat sugary or acidic foods, try to include them as part of a full meal. The more you chew and swallow, the more you encourage the production of saliva, which can help wash the sugars off of your teeth. Alternately, you can brush right after snacking on these foods. However, the best option is just choosing healthier, fiber-rich alternatives.

Limiting your exposure to sugars, starches, and acids makes it easier to maintain oral health, and will lead to numerous general health benefits, too! Were you looking for motivation to cut “bad” foods from your diet? Here you go.

Don’t Ignore Your Body’s Signals

It’s easy to dismiss oral pain, toothaches, bleeding gums, or soft-tissue and tongue sores as minor discomfort. Dentists, doctors, and nurses would remind you, however, that pain is your body telling you that something is wrong.

Oral pain can indicate a variety of problems (beyond simply making it difficult to eat or to talk). Cavities, gum disease, infection, and, importantly, oral cancers all start out as small worries. Many of these are the result of higher levels of acid in your mouth.

Such changes to your body’s pH levels (often influenced by diet) can be signs of larger issues, as well. Maintaining a healthy balance between acidity and alkalinity has been associated with lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Some studies have found that a higher-alkaline (low-acid) diet can also improve cognition, bone density, and metabolism.

Be aware of changes in your mouth, and have them checked by a professional. Catching problems early can prevent major complications down the line.

Break from Morning Breath

Have you noticed your coworkers taking a step back when you talk? Is your spouse avoiding your kisses? Have your children complained about your bad breath? Good oral health could be the answer to your problem!

Halitosis is caused by many things; diet, dry mouth, gum disease, smoking, and certain medications can all contribute to it. Highly-acidic foods and drinks can upset the pH balance in your mouth and cause unpleasant odors. And let’s face it, some foods just smell! Having particles stuck in your teeth after eating means the bad breath can linger. The after-effects of some stinky ingredients (like onions and garlic) can be particularly long-lasting as your body processes them.

A lack of saliva (dry mouth), which can be caused by diuretic drinks, medications, or simply breathing with your mouth open, has a similar effect.

These days, many people are choosing a ketogenic diet in their efforts to get healthy. Once your metabolism reaches the ketosis stage, your body begins to produce a surplus of acetone, which is partially released via the lungs. The bad breath that is often associated with this type of weight-loss/muscle-development program is, unfortunately, not something that can be remedied even with excellent oral health!

Please note that an unusually rancid smell could indicate something much worse than simple bad breath –the source could be significant tooth decay. Have your dentist do an exam to discover the cause.

Chronic bad breath can be embarrassing. However, in general, maintaining good oral health –brushing, flossing, and using a bacteria-combatting fluoride mouthwash– is a good way to ensure your exhalations are as sweet as a sea breeze.

Stub Out Smoking

It’s well-known that smoking is terrible for your health, oral or otherwise! Keep the cigarettes out of your mouth, and you’ll go a long way to maintaining your smile (and the rest of you, too).

Tobacco products (smoking or chewing) are particularly destructive to your oral health. On top of being highly addictive, they contribute to gum recession, periodontal disease, severely stained teeth, bad breath, and a dulled sense of smell and taste. More significantly, tobacco is a leading cause of mouth, nose, and throat cancers.

Here in Kelowna, smoking is prohibited in most public spaces and workplaces. Get outside in that fresh (and clean!) Okanagan air. If you’re interested in living a healthier lifestyle, kicking the smoking habit is one of the best steps you can take.

See your Dentist Regularly

Our Sunnyside dentists and hygienists are here to help you maintain your oral health!

Regular visits to your dental health team can have a great influence on your whole-body health. Periodic and thorough cleanings at the dentist’s office are an ideal supplement to your everyday maintenance. Our skilled hygienists can gently and effectively clear away the plaque, stains, and build-up that naturally occur over time (even in the mouths of the most dedicated brushers and flossers).

Our dentists keep an eye on your general oral health, including teeth, enamel, gums, tissue, and trouble spots. Additionally, with consistent monitoring, they will be able to identify and treat larger issues like jaw discomfort, bone health, sleep apnea, or complicated restorative dentistry problems. With regular examinations, your dentist may also be able to detect serious concerns, such as oral cancers, early on.

Your dentist is often the first line of defense in your healthcare regimen. Don’t wait until you have a toothache! Preventative medical care is important, for your mouth and your body.

woman on hike smiles on trestle bridgeGreat oral health is an essential part of great whole-body health. At Sunnyside Dental, our doctors and staff are dedicated to helping ensure your oral health is at its best, so that you can head out and enjoy our amazing Okanagan playground.

With strong, sparkling, pain-free teeth and a happy mouth, you’ll have plenty of reasons to smile (even while you’re climbing up Knox Mountain!).

Contact the dental health professionals at Kelowna’s Sunnyside Dental to book your checkup and take your first steps toward a healthy new you!