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Dental Care: Oral Hygiene

oral hygiene

Oral health problems — ranging from cavities to cancer — are painful and costly, affecting millions of people each year. This is alarming because almost all oral diseases can be avoided with proper oral hygiene.

Tooth decay

Cavities are a common problem for children. Untreated cavities can cause pain and infection, which can lead to difficulty eating, speaking, playing and learning.

Tooth decay is also a problem for adults, especially for the increasing number who retain most of their teeth throughout their lives. Tooth loss can become an issue as adults get older — affecting self-esteem and contributing to nutrition problems by limiting the types of food that someone can eat.

In addition, poor oral hygiene can lead to a number of diseases and conditions, including gum disease and oral cancer.

Prevention

Keep your oral health in good shape by practicing the following:

  • Drink fluoridated water and use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Take care of your teeth and gums. Thoroughly brushing and flossing can reduce dental plaque and prevent gingivitis.
  • Avoid tobacco. In addition to the many other health risks posed by tobacco, smokers have four times the risk of developing gum disease as non-smokers. Tobacco use in any form — cigarette, pipe or smokeless spit tobacco — increases the risk for gum disease, oral and throat cancers, and an oral fungal yeast infection called candidiasis. Spit tobacco containing sugar also increases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Heavy use of alcohol is also a risk factor for oral and throat cancers. When used alone, alcohol and tobacco are risk factors for oral cancers, but when used in combination, the effects are even greater.
  • Eat wisely. Adults should avoid snacks with sugars and starches. Limit the number of snacks eaten throughout the day. The recommended five-a-day helping of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables stimulates your salivary flow to aid in the re-mineralization of tooth surfaces with early stages of tooth decay.
  • Visit the dentist regularly. Check-ups can detect early signs of oral health problems and can lead to treatments that will prevent further damage, and in some cases, reverse the problem. Professional tooth cleaning, called prophylaxis, is also important for preventing oral problems, especially when self-care is difficult.

How employers can help in prevention

Employers can take steps to help their employees achieve good oral hygiene and positively impact organizational outcomes. Besides stressing the importance of dental care, employers can specifically look into their employee benefits.

Tailoring your dental offerings or beginning to offer dental benefits is one way you can encourage employees to prioritize their oral health. Also, by providing employer dental benefits, you’ll be more likely to retain and attract employees and reduce severe health problems that can be costly to the organization.

Need help reviewing your current employee benefits plan to see what dental coverage makes sense for your organization? Schedule a time to speak with HANYS Benefit Services’ team of experts today.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For further information, please consult a medical professional. © 2013, 2015, 2018, 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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