Resolve to Take Better Care of your Teeth

Three happy young women sit on a white sofa and smile for the camera. There is an off-white wall behind them.

Are you ready to eat right, toss the cigarettes, and “sweat to the oldies”? New Year’s resolutions are most often about leading healthier lifestyles, but we don’t think about including our mouth in those thoughts. They may just be the most important part of keeping us healthy, especially during COVID-19. This year we saw heightened complications in the midst of the pandemic in patients with tooth and gum issues.

Tooth decay and gum disease is a major health problem that does not normally get a lot of New Year-New You, attention. In fact, 80 percent of adults have some form of gum disease.

In fact, 80 percent of adults have some form of gum disease.

Many are not aware of the diagnosis, symptoms, or its lasting effects. People with gum disease are more likely to develop diabetes or heart disease. Pregnant women increase their risk of delivering low-birth weight and premature babies, and periodontal disease has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and Pancreatic Cancer. Periodontal disease presents inflammation in the body, which can lead to an increased risk of breathing difficulty, causing a devastating, life-threatening impact on patients who have been hospitalized with COVID-19.

There is no better day than today to take better care of your mouth and teeth. A few tips:

  • Brush twice daily: Mouths are your front-line defense for bacteria that damages not only your teeth and gums, but also other organs and systems in your body.
  • Floss daily: Your toothbrush cannot reach between your teeth where bacterial film likes to build up. Daily flossing cleans the spaces between teeth, depriving bacteria of a safe haven.
  • Two dental cleanings a year: Your dental hygienist supplements your daily brushing and flossing by cleaning the pockets where bacteria may escape your own routine. Additionally, the hygienist provides a vital screening for problems between dental checkups.
  • Get a regular annual dental checkup: Preventative dentistry is better for your health and much cheaper than dealing with major dental problems.
  • Visit a periodontist for gum evaluation: All adults should have a full periodontal examination once a year. This important assessment provides you and your dentist with a baseline measurement to record your pocket depth (space between your teeth and gums), the presence of gum disease, gum recession, bleeding, tooth mobility, and plaque build-up.
  • Eat, drink, and be wary: The enemy of oral health is a group of natural bacteria that thrives on sugar and dissolves the protective enamel covering the teeth. Refined sugar is present in an overwhelming number of foods and is part of the modern diabetes “epidemic.” This year, make a commitment to tooth and health-conscious eating habits.
  • Consider a new and stronger smile: Getting dental implants and crowns for missing or broken teeth isn’t a luxury; these problems can have a domino effect that will leave you with shifting teeth, a vulnerability to gum disease, and other growing damage. These necessary restorations will improve your quality of life and your long-term health.

Do not wait for slight gum problems to become severe. Get screened and seek an expert evaluation from a periodontist today. Improving your dental health and preventing tooth decay can have a larger health impact than just a healthy mouth and brighter teeth – it may just save your life.

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Dr. Karl Smith
Dr. Karl Smith has been in dental practice for over thirty-four years. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1981 and immediately entered General Practice in the US Air Force Dental Corps. He successfully completed three additional years of advanced education in the specialty of Periodontics with additional training in IV Sedation and Dental Implants in 1992, at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio and Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center. He won the John Pritchard Prize for outstanding research which included looking for a vaccine against bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Dr. Smith completed a Master of Business Administration degree with a Certificate in Health Services Management while working full time as a Periodontist. In his free time Dr. Smith enjoys traveling nationally and internationally. He is an expert skier and enjoys playing other sports including tennis. Family time with his five children and many grandchildren is also very important to him. Dr. Smith's team describes him as a dentist with superpowers! They know that when he speaks with his patients, he does so with a great deal of care and concern, and because he has a genuine desire to improve their lives and smiles! Dr. Smith is a member of many dental organizations including the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology.