There are many good things that have been said about healthcare lately and at Poindexter Dental, we instill prevention with all of our patients. The Internet gives people the ability to access health information, weigh options and choose ever expanding services available to them. There are a tremendous number of opportunities for individuals who are willing and able to access the internet to learn how to improve their lifestyle and be educated about changing their lives for the better.
At Poindexter Dental, we are making progress with our patients by observing, documenting and treating diseases and its effects upon the patients’ lives. There are multiple causes to the diseases in the African American community that stem from lack of oral healthcare and the education to prevent the diseases. Frequently, one disease condition can result in or contribute to something that is worse and in most cases preventable with the simple process of having regular check ups.
At Poindexter Dental, we treat many cultures and as African Americans we need to realize the diseases that cause more deaths than any others are; Heart Disease, Peripheral Vascular Disease, Hypertension, (all of these are vascular diseases), Diabetes, and Lung Disease. Quite frequently, most diseases are preventable and in moderate to severe cases, treatments are available.
As oral healthcare providers, we at Poindexter Dental are mindful of the value of prevention of disease, as good oral hygiene is a great first step to systemic disease prevention. There are numerous studies that prove there is a direct and indirect correlation between poor oral health and cardiovascular disease.
Good oral hygiene and proper care of diabetes go hand in hand. Maintaining good oral health and living with diabetes demand attention. The disease management process requires effort. It is a wise practice to maintain your health and prevent disease:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily – If you can, brush after every meal. Ideally, wait 30 minutes after eating, this will allow any enamel that softened from acid during eating to re-harden and not get brushed away. Brushing removes plaque, a film of bacteria that clings to teeth. When bacteria in plaque come into contact with food, they produce acids.
These acids lead to cavities.
- Floss teeth once a day- Flossing gets rid of food and plaque between the teeth, where your toothbrush cannot reach. If plaque stays between teeth, it can harden into tartar, which must be removed by a dentist or hygienist.
- Eat a variety of foods – minimize those that contain sugars and starches. These foods produce the most acids in the mouth and the longer they stay in the mouth, the more they can damage the teeth. Hard “sucking candies” are especially harmful because they stay in the mouth a long time, releasing sugar over a long period.
- Use mouth rinse – They reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Fluoride mouth rinses also help reduce and prevent tooth decay. The ADA does not recommend fluoride mouth rinses for children ages 6 or younger, because they may swallow the rinse.
- Visit your dentist at least once every six months – To maintain healthy teeth and gums, it’s important to have regular check-ups and professional cleanings. You should also see your dentist if you have pain in the mouth, bleeding, swollen gums or bad breath.
- Maintain a regular exercise program. Although this can be difficult for some who have physical challenges, there are some programs that can be tailored to fit around these impediments. It’s important to do what you can. This is key to maintaining the level of mobility that you have throughout your life, as well as maintaining cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association is an excellent place to start if you don’t have an exercise program in place. A visit to www.heart.org will help you find recommendations that will put you on the right track.
- Maintain a healthy diet. It’s not easy to do these days with the pervasive food choices that surround us on a daily basis. Multitudes of volumes exist on this subject, and finding one that works for you can be a daunting project. It’s been shown that diet is a large contributor to heart disease and vascular disease. As all journeys begin with a first step, it’s important to make it, and then continue one step at a time until you achieve your goal. The American Heart Association can be helpful in getting you started here as well, another reason to visit www.heart.org.
- If you have diabetes, pay attention to maintaining your treatment regimen to control your blood sugar, as recommended by your healthcare providers. If you have hypertension that is treated by medication, take it everyday as directed by your physician. Consistent, regular treatment of high blood pressure is a lifesaver.
- If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Avoid second hand smoke as well if you can. The negative effects of smoking are numerous, and eliminating them is one of the most effective steps you can take to improve your health quickly.
With good practices of prevention and education, African Americans as a group can make great changes to the statistics chronicling the diseases that affect us the most. It’s up to us as individuals to make the changes necessary to fight and win the battle of living a healthy life. Please make the time to have your annual check up at the Dentist and begin the process of maintaining your oral healthcare.