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About Teeth Doctor

Aug 28

The health of your mouth, teeth and gums — known as oral health — is linked to whole-body health. When you have good oral health, it can help you to eat well, breathe easier and look your best. Likewise, poor oral health can lead to serious health problems. That’s why it’s important to brush and floss regularly, get regular teeth care and avoid risk behaviors such as tobacco use and eating too much sugar.

The human body is a complex system of interrelated parts, and the mouth is no exception. Your mouth teems with bacteria, and while most are harmless, an unhealthy diet can encourage the growth of acid-producing bacteria that dissolve tooth enamel, causing dental cavities. In addition, gum disease can lead to other health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and may be linked with preterm birth and low birth weight in babies.

When your mouth is healthy, you can enjoy a wide variety of foods and beverages. You can speak clearly, smile and convey emotions, and you’re less likely to have diseases and other health conditions that can affect your overall well-being. Achieving and maintaining good oral health is important at any age, but it’s particularly critical for pregnant women, children and people with chronic health conditions.

Oral health problems can be a warning sign of some diseases and other health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, osteoporosis and HIV/AIDS. The common cold, rheumatoid arthritis and an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth (Sjogren’s syndrome) can also be linked to poor oral health.

Many oral health conditions are preventable, including cavities and gum disease. Brushing twice daily with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and flossing daily to remove food that can build up between teeth, are simple and effective ways to prevent oral disease. In addition, avoiding high-risk behavior such as cigarette and cigar smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and eating too much sugar can help prevent oral cancers and other health complications.

While some progress has been made in integrating oral health and primary care, barriers such as separate insurance systems, incompatible electronic health records and a lack of education continue to hinder coordinated care between doctors and dentists. However, many community based initiatives are making great strides in expanding access to oral healthcare for vulnerable and underserved populations.

The UIC College of Dentistry’s Division of Prevention and Public Health Sciences is working to address these challenges by training an oral health workforce that is competent in both clinical practice and community-based preventive services. By focusing on prevention and promotion of optimal oral health, we can help reduce the burdens of oral diseases that cause pain and suffering for millions of Americans and cost taxpayers billions each year. This is a goal that everyone can share in, and one that begins with small steps such as brushing and flossing. Then, visit your doctor and dentist for regular health screenings that include an exam of your head, neck and oral cavity.