By: Elizabeth Strahle for Dental1
|Appreciate Your Teeth:|
Pay attention to your teeth by brushing and flossing daily.
Make an appointment with your dentist at least every six months.
Take care of dental problems immediately. Do not ignore even the small problems that may not cause pain. See your dentist as soon as possible.
Encourage loved ones and children to routinely visit their dentists.
Learn to love your smile.
There are many threats to the teeth like gingivitis and cavities, to name a few. Periodontitis is a much more harmful condition when it comes to actual tooth loss, according to the Associate Dean for Research in the West Virginia School of Dentistry, Richard Crout, D.M.D, Ph.D. When periodontitis is left untreated, infection can travel from the gums down to the actual tooth bone. The bacteria eat away at the bone until the tooth eventually falls out. In most cases, it is not just one or two teeth attacked by this condition left untreated.
According to the study, the tooth loss does not stop at one or two teeth. While the national average for people over the age of 65 who have lost all of their teeth is 20 percent, this study found that in West Virginia this number soars to 43 percent. Dr. Crout emphasizes the importance of attitudes about oral hygiene and, more specifically, these attitudes passed down through generations.
The study suggests that children’s beliefs about healthy gums and teeth come from the views of their parents and sometimes grandparents. Attitudes of “ignore your teeth and they’ll go away” displayed by children’s grandparents help shape the parents’ behaviors and attitudes, leaving children with attitudes about oral hygiene that will eventually leave them with no teeth later in their lives. Behaviors follow from the “I don’t care” attitudes, resulting in fewer trips to the dentist’s office. Problems that could be fixed are disregarded and conditions worsen. Fear is also a main factor in young children causing tooth problems to be ignored with no encouragement from parents.
Crout, a co-author of the study, believes that stressing the importance of tooth care and oral hygiene leads to decreased tooth loss and overall improved health. In an interview with West Virginia University’s Health News Crout said, “It is also critically important to get the word out to our people in the state of the importance of oral health. Not only will it keep their teeth, but it will also be very important for good systemic health. Brushing, flossing and routine dental visits have never been more important.”
In addition to following the dentist’s orders, enthusiasm for a healthy mouth is just as important in preventing tooth loss. As the study shows, a healthy attitude about one’s own oral hygiene decreases tooth loss. Furthermore, it shows that a person’s positive attitude and proactive behaviors regarding oral hygiene can prevent tooth loss in children and in generations to follow.