It seems like every day, researchers uncover more and more links between our oral health and our overall physical health. But even with all the mounting evidence, a significant percentage of the population still doesn’t take dental health and dental care seriously.
The American Dental association recommends that people brush at least twice a day, at a minimum. They also strongly encourage brushing after each meal and after especially sugary snacks and drinks. Yet only 28.7% of women and 20.5% of men in the United States brush their teeth after meals.
Dental professionals also recommend we floss once a day to maintain healthy gums and prevent cavities and decay. But barely over half of people in the U.S. claim to floss daily, 31% say they floss on a less-than-daily basis, and nearly 20% of those surveyed admitted to never flossing their teeth at all. It may come as no surprise that 45% of women and 52% of men suffer from gum disease of some form.
Perhaps even more startling is the prevalence of tooth decay in America. Tooth enamel is, in fact, the hardest substance in the human body — but it isn’t indestructible. And poor dental health habits over a long period can seriously damage your enamel, sometimes irreparably. A quarter of women, ages 35-44, and almost a third of men in the same age group suffer from untreated dental decay. And 20% of children in the United States suffer from untreated dental decay, making it the most common chronic disease among children.
Dental health is about much more than just having clean teeth. Our mouths are literally the gateways to our digestive system. If our teeth and gums are healthy, we can more easily digest food and extract nutrients. Proper dental hygiene is also vital to our immune system, as a healthy mouth can repel or neutralize harmful bacteria before it can work its way further into our bodies. If you haven’t established good dental habits yet, don’t worry — it’s never too late to give your mouth something to smile about. To see more, read this.