How to Save Your Smile, Your Health and Your Money on World Oral Health Day
Why not show it a little appreciation in return on March 20, World Oral Health Day?
You Know the Drill
The American Dental Association recommends brushing our teeth twice a day and flossing once daily.
I get it. All that mouth maintenance can be tough to stick to on a regular schedule.
Life happens, things get in the way, and before you know it your container of floss is gathering dust in a dark corner of your bathroom medicine cabinet.
That can lead to serious consequences, like tooth loss or even heart problems.
Not to mention hefty medical bills.
Cavities and gum inflammation aren’t the only things your dentist is looking for when he peers into your mouth. Oral symptoms like bleeding gums and tooth erosion can alert dentists to other health problems you may not realize you have.
“Don’t underestimate your oral health,” says Dr. Mark Burhenne, a family dentist and creator of AskTheDentist.com. “Good health starts with your mouth.”
How To Keep Your Mouth Healthy and Happy
Oral health care and regular dental visits aren’t anyone’s ideas of a party, but they’re important to our overall health and well-being.
Try to avoid sugary drinks, juice and soda, recommends Dr. Burhenne. They can lead to dry mouth and bad breath.
He also suggests people avoid coffee, tea and alcohol, which can cause dehydration of the teeth.
“Teeth can dehydrate because they’re basically calcified sponges and that can lead to sensitive teeth and decay,” he says. “If you’re thirsty, first think of water.”
“Part of good oral health is the health of the airway,” says Dr. Burhenne. He recommends people get screened for sleep apnea, a condition that causes people to repeatedly stop breathing while sleeping because of an airway obstruction.
Dr. Burhenne says many people lose or damage their teeth playing sports, so he recommends wearing a mouthguard during physical activity that could impact your face. In fact, Dr. Burhenne even wears a mouthguard when he rides his bicycle around town.
How to Save Money on Oral Health Care
If you can’t afford dental insurance, there are a few ways to find dental care for less.
- Dental schools are a great option for lower-cost dental treatment. You’ll get a nice discount in exchange for giving students real teeth to work on (under supervision). Everybody wins!
- Don’t try to DIY your own metal braces. Instead consider straightening your teeth with invisible aligners – no routine orthodontic check-ups required.
- You could save a bundle on dental bills by signing up for a dental savings plan or asking the dentist for a discount.
- Don’t whip out a charge card if you’re facing mounting dental bills. First try negotiating the balance or asking the provider for financial assistance.
If you still need convincing to make that dentist appointment, consider this. If you keep your teeth in good shape, you can enjoy National Candy Day guilt-free!
Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She finally made peace with the fact that flossing will always be a part of her life.