Don’t Forget Your Teeth!

We all know we are supposed to brush our teeth, but for our unemployed veterans, this is a necessity and luxury that just isn’t always possible. Sometimes we have so many other things going on in our lives that the one thing we often forget about is good oral hygiene. But your teeth need to survive the holidays, too.

Photo by Lesly Juarez at Unsplash

In fact, poor oral hygiene can lead to other health problems outside of your mouth. According to the American Dental Association, various research and studies have found that “periodontitis (the advanced form of periodontal disease that can cause tooth loss) is linked with other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia.”

You know that you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once per day. But how often do you actually do it correctly? Do you have access to the necessary supplies? Are finances a factor? Organizations such as the Helping Hands Dental Foundation (HHDF) provide veterans with access to affordable dental care and oral hygiene supplies, giving you the gift of a healthy smile now and into the future. Taking care of your teeth during the can help you keep your teeth strong, and it might help you create new, healthy habits that can keep your teeth vital for the rest of your life.

If you’re a recovering addict, your teeth may have suffered during your using days. Methamphetamine use takes an especially terrible toll on your mouth. Meth use causes severe dry mouth, which is what causes the cavities. Users often try to remedy the situation with sugary sodas or sweets, which makes it even worse. That’s compounded by the severe anxiety a user suffers, causing teeth grinding. By the time a meth user gets clean, a terrible toll has been taken on his or her mouth. But once you’re clean, good hygiene can still help you recover. You might need dental work to get your smile back, but taking care of your teeth will keep them healthier longer.

Here are some offenders to look out for this holiday season:

  1. Wine — Red wine stains your teeth, but that doesn’t mean white wine is better. Both are acidic and can eat away your tooth enamel, the protective outer layer. Avoid swishing wine around in your mouth, and drink water in between each glass to wash away the acid.
  2. Sweets — The holidays are the best time to enjoy sugary sweetness. We all love cookies, candy, cakes and more. But the bacteria in your mouth really love sugar, too, and they can eat away at your teeth. Brush your teeth soon after eating sweets, and if you can’t, then chew some sugar-free gum. It helps your mouth produce saliva, which cleans out your mouth.
  3. Enjoy some cheese — Cheese after your meal can actually help your mouth return to its natural acidity, which reduces your chances of getting tooth decay.
  4. Watch the kids — Children always need help remembering to take care of their teeth, and they can be the biggest consumers of sugary treats. Make sure they know the importance of brushing for two minutes twice per day. Good oral health is learned early in life, and you’ll be training them for a lifetime of good teeth.
  5. Resolve to do better — Make good oral health part of your New Year’s resolution. Connect with organizations such as HHDF to stock your cabinet with floss, toothpaste, mouthwash, and a good toothbrush, and make an appointment with a dentist.

No matter where you are now in your oral health journey or in life, you can always make a fresh start. Teeth can be fixed, and nasty oral diseases and decay can be held off with just a few minutes dedicated to oral health per day. You don’t want to spend the holidays wishing for your “two front teeth.”

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