BATON ROUGE -- Dental cleanings keep your smile healthy and beautiful by removing plaque and tartar. Did you know that dental hygiene is also an important part of your overall health?
“People often underestimate the importance of good dental hygiene,” says Dr. Larry Simon, medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. “Tooth decay has been tied to poor nutrition, abscesses and various infections, and even certain diseases of the heart.”
For National Dental Hygiene Month, and with candy-focused Halloween fast approaching, Blue Cross shares some do’s and don’ts for keeping your mouth healthy.
Be proactive about your dental health by visiting your dentist regularly and practicing good hygiene. Getting a checkup once or twice a year can help you prevent painful, expensive procedures down the line by catching issues like gum disease and cavities before they get too serious.
Checkups are also crucial because they can catch serious health issues like oral cancer, tumors and cysts in their early stages. “All of these problems can be prevented by practicing basic dental hygiene— brushing, flossing and seeing a dentist regularly,” says Simon. Most dental plans cover these annual visits and encourage preventative care.
Practice good dental hygiene by brushing your teeth and tongue at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash. Make sure you brush your teeth for two minutes.
Don’t ignore dental problems. Your mouth can act as the window to the rest of your health because oral health can reflect other health issues throughout the body.
If you have symptoms such as toothaches or pain, gum swelling or bleeding, jaw pain, clicking in your jaw or chronic dry mouth, see a dentist as soon as you can.
Be aware of how bad habits may be harming your oral health. The use of tobacco and vaping (e‑cigarette) products increases the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. Even products that do not contain tobacco can lead to these issues, because nicotine dries your mouth, leading to tooth decay and receding gums.
Also, be sure to drink alcohol only in moderation. Heavy drinking is the largest risk factor for oral cancer. When paired, drinking and smoking together increase your risk of cancer 30 times. Cutting back your alcohol intake can significantly reduce your risk for cancer.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. We invest both time and money in the communities we serve, supporting the health and wellbeing of Louisianians through more than 200 charitable organizations.
With our subsidiaries, HMO Louisiana and Southern National Life, we provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to one out of four Louisiana residents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana also provides Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage plans and is a partner in offering the Healthy Blue Medicaid Managed care plan. Louisiana is the only state where we operate, with offices in every major region to serve our customers.
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a tax-paying non-profit health insurer. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.