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  • Writer's pictureMark Roberts

New Year and New Smile

Guess what! It's a new year already - 2023 is here, ready or not. Now that all the hoopla, hysterics, hyperboles and "hair of the dog" are out of the way, it's time to get serious with your dental hygiene. You've put off getting your dental checkup until after all the holiday parties. You've had loads of food and drink, and your teeth and gums have taken a beating over the last 30 days.

However, instead of trying to go to the gym to shed those extra pounds you gained this past holiday season, wait for a few weeks until all those New Year Resolutionaries are out of the way. Most of them will give up sometime in February or early March at the latest and go right back to their regular routine of no daily exercise at their local health club. Then you can hit the weights and get a personal trainer engaged to help you with a definite weight management program that suits you best.

In the meantime, the best way to start out the new year healthy is to manage your oral healthcare with a checkup at your dental office. Did you know that dentists are trained to identify potential health risks you might be facing. With a simple oral exam and a set of x-rays, your dentist has the ability to tell whether or not your overall health is in good shape or may need some extra help.

Bad breath and bleeding gums could be indicators of diabetes. Dental x-rays can show the first stages of bone loss and osteoporosis. A sore and painful jaw could foreshadow an oncoming heart attack. Seniors are especially vulnerable to developing diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease, the risks of which increase with age. Research shows that more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations, including swollen gums, mouth ulcers, dry mouth and excessive gum problems.

If you haven't developed an oral health regimen as part of your daily routine, these habits are easy to start. In addition, you can play a major role in improving your oral and overall health by following these practices:

  • Brushing your teeth for two to three minutes, twice a day, with fluoridated toothpaste. Be sure to brush along the gum line.

  • Flossing daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach.

  • Eating a healthy diet to provide essential nutrients (vitamins A and C, in particular).

  • Avoiding cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

  • Limiting your alcohol intake.

  • Carefully following your physician’s and dentist’s instructions about health care, including using prescription medications, such as antibiotics, as directed.

  • Seeing your dentist when you have any unusual oral symptoms like bad breath, mouth sores, red or swollen gums or sore jaws.

  • After your visit this month to the dentist, put a semi-annual visit on your calendar now for June 2023 and January 2024, and every year thereafter, even if you are not experiencing any issues.

Now, here is the disturbing news. A new visual report in 2022 from CareQuest Institute for Oral Health reveals that of all Americans, Medicare beneficiaries have the largest unmet need for dental coverage. Other key findings include:

  • An estimated 76.5 million adults do not have dental insurance.

  • Adults aged 60 and over were most likely to lack dental insurance.

  • A quarter of all respondents with Medicare reported that their current dental coverage is insufficient to maintain their oral health.

Not only that, but in 2020, over 2 million patients who went to the emergency room to treat preventable dental conditions cost taxpayers, hospitals, and the government about $2 billion a year, according to researchers at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health. Regular visits to the dentist are essential for maintaining oral health and catching dental diseases early, the researchers said. But major obstacles such as costs and lack of dental insurance coverage can get in the way for many people.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to get your smile in order for a new year. I have many affordable options for a dental plan, and some are available on this website. Let me know how I can help you get a new smile for a new year. I am here to help.

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