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Oral Care

What Your Dentist Knows About Your Health

Learn why a dental exam can reveal more than just the condition of your teeth and gums.
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Oral Cancer

The first sign of oral cancer is often a small red or white spot or sore in the mouth. It can appear on your lips, gums, tongue, cheek lining, or in other parts of your mouth.

"Often, the patient does not notice it because it starts as a small spot toward the back of the mouth or under the tongue and they don't have any symptoms," Cram says.

Your dentist, dental hygienist, or periodontist will typically screen for oral cancer as part of a routine dental exam. By scheduling regular check-ups, you can increase the chances that any potentially cancerous or precancerous lesions will be caught early and successfully treated. Also, be sure to tell your dentist if you've noticed symptoms like a sore in your mouth that doesn't heal, a lump, or pain or numbness anywhere in your mouth or on your lips.  

Stress

Your teeth may be worn down or chipped if you've been unconsciously grinding or clenching them. This grinding -- also known as bruxism -- can eventually cause bone loss that your dentist may detect on your X-rays.

Bruxism is usually caused by stress but can also occur because the top and bottom teeth aren't aligned properly. You may or may not be aware that you've been grinding your teeth, but your dentist can spot the signs. 

To prevent damage to your teeth and keep them apart so your jaw muscles can relax, your dentist can fit you with a custom mouth guard to wear while you sleep.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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