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    Your Oral Health Care Plan

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    Good oral health involves more than just brushing. To keep your teeth and mouth healthy for a lifetime of use, there are steps that you should follow. Here's what you should consider:

    1. Understand your own oral health needs.

    Talk with your dentist, other oral health care specialist, or hygienist about any special conditions in your mouth and any ways in which your medical/health conditions affect your teeth or oral health. For example, cancer treatments, pregnancy, heart diseases, diabetes, dental appliances (dentures, braces) can all impact your oral health and may necessitate a change in the care of your mouth and/or teeth. Be sure to tell your dentist if you have experienced a change in your general health or in any medications you are taking since your last dental visit.

    2. Develop, then follow, a daily oral health routine.

    Based on discussions with your oral health care provider about health conditions you may have, develop an oral health routine that is easy to follow on a daily basis. For example, people with special conditions, including pregnancy and diabetes, may require additional instruction and perhaps treatments to keep their mouth healthy. Make sure you understand the additional care and/or treatment that is needed, commit to the extra tasks, and work them into your daily health routine.

    3. Use fluoride.

    Children and adults benefit from fluoride use. Fluoride strengthens developing teeth in children and prevents tooth decay in both children and adults. Toothpastes and mouth rinses contain fluoride. Fluoride levels in tap water may not be high enough without supplementation to prevent tooth decay. Contact your water utility to determine the level for your area. Talk with your dentist about your fluoride needs. Ask if fluoride supplements or a higher strength, prescription fluoride product is necessary for you.

    4. Brush, floss, and rinse daily.

    Brush your teeth at least twice a day (morning and before bed time) and floss at least once a day. Better still, brush after every meal and snack. These activities remove plaque, which if not removed, combines with sugars to form acids that lead to tooth decay. Bacterial plaque also causes gum disease and other periodontal diseases.

    Antibacterial mouth rinses also reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease, and fluoride mouth rinse can help prevent tooth decay.

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    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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