Many advances, including the fluoridation of water and toothpaste, have helped significantly increase the oral health of American adults in the past century. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the baby boom generation is the first generation in which the majority of people will keep their natural teeth for their entire lives, and in the past 10 years alone, the number of adults over the age of 60 who have no remaining natural teeth has decreased by 6 percent.
Despite these advances, the country still faces many obstacles in achieving optimal public oral health. In fact, the CDC reports that nearly 25 percent of all adults have reported facial pain of some sort (mostly toothaches) in the past 6 months and many others experience gum disease, cold sores, jaw joint diseases (TMD), mouth ulcers, and more. Moreover, over 164 million hours of work are lost each year due to oral health related causes.
There are a few easy steps you can take to reduce your risk for many of these oral health complications.
Brush your teeth at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to reach all of your teeth, gums, and tongue and use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
Floss daily to remove any missed plaque or food.
Go to the dentist regularly for checkups and cleaning.
Avoid tobacco in any form and drink alcohol in moderation.
Limit consumption of sugary foods and beverages and instead choose fresh fruits and vegetables.
Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.