Proper Dental Care Impacts More Than Your Teeth
Good dental care isn’t just about having a big smile with white teeth. It’s about keeping your body healthy, from your head to your toes.
Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day helps remove food and bacteria trapped between your teeth and gums. That bacteria can affect you in many ways, often starting with bad breath.
Bacteria can be a source of inflammation in your body, which can be connected to preterm labor, heart attacks and strokes. Dental infections can also make your blood sugar rise and pain from those infections can impact your blood pressure.
“This is one of the places where preventive care is extra important,” said Dr. Kelli Tice Wells, senior medical director for Florida Blue.
Preventive care includes checkups and cleanings twice a year, which are covered by Florida Blue dental plans at little to no extra cost to members. In addition, members with certain medical conditions can receive enhanced benefits at no additional cost. Conditions included in the Oral Health for Overall Health program include diabetes, stroke, head and neck cancers and pregnancy. Learn more about the enhanced dental benefits here.
If you get insurance through your job, ask your benefits administrator to see if your plan includes dental coverage. Most Florida Blue Medicare Advantage plans include dental coverage. Check your Evidence of Coverage to see what is included.
Wells said parents should teach their children early on about the value of brushing and flossing. Use a timer from a board game or get them a toothbrush with a built-in timer to help them brush for two minutes. Floss sticks may be easier for younger kids to use than floss thread.
Taking your children for routine care can help them not be afraid to go to the dentist and can keep their first experience from being linked to a painful cavity. Many dental offices have “cavity-free clubs” where kids can get a treat or prize after a good checkup. “If you’re able to pick a dentist with that, it further endears the provider to your child,” Wells said.
Positive interactions with a dentist can help children build strong dental habits that stick with them the rest of their lives. Those habits are especially important for older adults, said Dr. Matha Arun, senior medical director for Florida Blue.
Without proper dental care, older adults can be prone to having loose teeth and inflamed gums that may impact their ability to have good nutrition. As people get older, they are more at risk for Type 2 diabetes. And gum disease is the most common dental condition for people with diabetes.
Arun believes many people are more focused on the cosmetic look of teeth, including getting them whitened, than the overall healthiness of them. He wants people to understand the importance of good dental health and the many ways it can impact them throughout their lives.
A dentist can help you do that. If you don’t have a dentist, you can find one here.
Filed under: Health Education