Researchers have linked poor oral health to frailty in aging adults.

Researchers have linked poor oral health to frailty in aging adults.

The number of older adults in the US is dramatically increasing. This is also true of other developed countries. A recent study sheds light on the influence poor oral health has on physical frailty in older adults.

Older adults’ health and well-being is an important public health issue. Many older adults have poor oral health. Unfortunately, these issues affect overall health and measures of well-being, as well.

Poor Oral Health in Older Adults

Older adults have a variety of oral health problems. For example, people in this group often have lost a number of teeth. In addition, many have gum disease, cavities, and problems related to dry mouth.

British researchers looked at whether these types of issues affect frailty in old age. Their study looked at men aged 71 to 92 in 24 British towns.  The research took the form of a cross-sectional and longitudinal study. It included 3 years of follow-up and used data on heart health among Brits.

The researchers used both objective and subjective assessments of oral health in the study. On the objective side, they looked at issues such as number of teeth and history of gum disease.

On the subjective side, they asked about things like self-rated oral health. These included symptoms of dry mouth, tooth sensitivity, and whether the subjects had difficulty eating.

Researchers Find Link Between Physical Frailty and Poor Oral Health

To measure frailty, the researchers observed issues such as weight loss and the strength of the subjects’ grips. They also asked about feelings of exhaustion. In addition, they asked about subjects’ walking speeds and level or physical exercise.

The study’s authors reported an association between poor oral health and frailty. Specifically, they found that having less than 21 teeth, complete tooth loss, fair to poor self-rated oral health, difficulty eating, dry mouth, and other problems led to a greater likelihood of frailty.

In addition, according to the authors, “These oral health problems have significant effects on eating and swallowing, nutritional intake, speaking, and smiling and thus affect several aspects of health and well-being.”

Moreover, the authors reported that loss of teeth and gum disease are “associated with greater risks of morbidity, physical and cognitive decline, and mortality.”

Healthy Teeth, Healthy Aging

“The identification and management of poor oral health in older people could be important in preventing frailty,” according to the report. Their findings shine a light on the significant role oral health plays in healthy aging.

As they concluded, “Our findings particularly highlight the importance of tooth loss, dry mouth, and cumulative oral health problems.” They found that all of these play a role in frailty as we age.

The authors think the influence tooth loss and dry mouth have on frailty in old age could be due to poor nutrition.

In addition, they noted that, “Although causal associations cannot be fully established from our study, our findings suggest that dry mouth or accumulation of oral health problems could be powerful markers and predictors of frailty in older people.”

The authors took steps to separate also looked at whether the associations between oral health and frailty were independent of other factors. They found  a link between problems with oral health and frailty in aging adults. This was  independent of socioeconomic and other factors such as smoking, socioeconomic position, and history of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Read Next: Dental Insurance for Seniors

In this blog, we’ve often looked at the ways oral health and overall health go hand in hand. However, the effects go beyond physical well-being. Doing without dental care can also have economic effects. So, in this post we’ll look at some of the implications of dental inequality in America.

The lack of coverage for dental care, “can be bad news not only for people’s overall well-being, but also for their ability to find and keep a job,” according to Austin Frakt. Frakt is associate professor with Boston University’s School of Public Health.

He is also director of the Partnered Evidence-Based Policy Resource Center at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System. Frakt shared his insights in a recent edition of the New York Times.

Some Ways Dental Inequality Hurts Americans

The implications of dental inequality in America include social and employment disparities.

The implications of dental inequality in America include social and employment disparities.

In an article titled, How Dental Inequality Hurts Americans, Frakt states: “both in social settings and in finding employment,” people look down on others who have bad teeth. The author cites a number of studies that show how people judge others based on their oral health.

For example, in research into the “social meanings of dental appearance,” scientists looked at “the effect of tooth appearance on the development of a first impression.” The researchers concluded that we place greater importance on tooth appearance in the opposite sex than when we evaluate others of our own sex.

Of course, these findings have important implications in the area of employment and job security. Consider a report published by the American Dental Association (ADA), Oral Health & Well-Being in the United States. It sums up “data on self-reported oral health status.”

According to Frakt, the ADA report found that for “about one-third of adults with incomes below 138 percent of the poverty level…the appearance of their teeth and mouth affected their ability to interview for a job.” On the other hand, Frakt writes, “only 15 percent of adults with incomes above 400 percent of the poverty level feel that way.”

Dental Inequality: Supporting Evidence

Other evidence indirectly sheds light on the ways dental inequality hurts Americans. While researching water fluoridation, for example, researchers found this practice affects income. Women with access to fluoridated water enjoyed 4 percent higher income on average. In addition, women with lower socioeconomic status saw this effect to an even greater extent, Frakt writes.

Moreover, in a study from Brazil, researchers found that people judged others with dental problems as less intelligent. In addition, the research subjects  judged people with dental problems as less suitable for hiring, Frakt writes.

The Wide-Ranging Benefits of Oral Health

Oral health affects our overall well being, including physical, mental, and economic health

Oral health affects our overall well being, including physical, mental, and economic health

Clearly, the benefits of seeing your dentist every six months go far beyond simply having healthier, better-looking teeth. Oral health affects our overall well being, including physical, mental, and economic health.

The truth is, it’s easier to do anything from make a big sale to make a new friend when you have an attractive smile. Our appearance and employment are based on our ability to smile with confidence. In fact, it’s essential in some professions that require people to have good oral health.

Read Next: 5 Positive Oral Health Benefits


How Dental Inequality Hurts Americans, by Austin Frakt;, February 2018.

At First Glance: Social Meanings of Dental Appearance, by Eli, Bar-Tat, and Kostovetski; Journal of Public Health Dentistry, September 2001.

Oral Health and Well-Being in the United States, by Health Policy Institute and the American Dental Association.

The Economic Value of Teeth, by Sherry Glied and Matthew Neidell; The Journal of Human Resources, March 2010.


Dark chocolate may actually help your teeth.

Most people know that sugary sweets can be bad for teeth. However, dentists are rethinking their advice when it comes to chocolate. It turns out, chocolate may not be so hard on teeth, after all. Dark chocolate, that is.

Why the change of tack, you ask? Well, several dental blogs cite recent studies that support the idea that dark chocolate could help prevent cavities. In addition, dentists and researchers say this not-so-sweet treat may even help fight plaque and tooth decay.

Dark Chocolate is Getting a Better Rap

It’s true: across the Web, dentists are coming out in favor of dark chocolate as a kind of “superfood” for oral health.

In his blog, dentist Mark Burhenne, DDS, writes that, “Compounds in chocolate may be more effective at fighting decay than fluoride.”

“Compounds in chocolate may be more effective at fighting decay than fluoride.”

What’s more, “Researchers are predicting that one day, [a] compound found in chocolate…will be used in mouthwashes and toothpaste,” Burhenne writes.

What Makes Dark Chocolate So Special?

When it comes to sweets, dark chocolate may be in a class by itself. That’s because there are several things that help set this confection apart from the competition.

For one, a substance in cocoa bean husk (CBH) has an antibacterial effect, which helps to offset the effects of sugar. Writer Paul Fassa, over at, explains: “Researchers at Tulane University discovered that cocoa powder contains a powerful extract that’s an effective cavity fighter.”

The study compared fluoride toothpaste side-by-side against a toothpaste that contained a naturally occurring cacao extract called theobromine. This bitter alkaloid occurs in chocolate as well as other foods. Tealeaves, the cola nut, and a number of other items also contain this substance.

Other healthful effects of chocolate include the following:

  • CBH helps harden tooth enamel, making users less susceptible to tooth decay
  • Polyphenols found in chocolate help limit oral bacteria, neutralize the microorganisms and keep some bacteria from turning sugar and starches to tooth-harming acids
  • A flavonoid compound called epicatechin found in dark chocolate may help slow tooth decay
  • Tannins, which give dark chocolate a bitter taste and dark color, help stop bacteria from clinging to teeth
  • Dark chocolate can contain up to four times the level of antioxidants found in green tea; these molecules help keep your body healthy on a cellular level

Here’s How You Can Benefit from Eating Chocolate

According to Dr. Burhenne, “Eating 3-4 oz of chocolate a day is a great way to take advantage of this wonder compound and lower your chance of getting cavities.”

Eating dark chocolate doesn't give you a pass on basic dental care.

Eating dark chocolate doesn’t give you a pass on basic dental care.

To get the most benefit, Burhenne recommends chewing on cocoa nibs, a practice he admits most people would find unpleasant. The second best choice? Eat organic dark chocolate with less than 8 grams of sugar in each serving.

Just be sure to carry on with your regular oral hygiene practices, as well. While chocolate may help you in your quest for good oral health, there’s nothing like regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups to keep a happy, health smile on your face.


Chocolate: A Superfood for Your Teeth; by Mark Burhenne, DDS;

Chocolate Toothpaste is Better for Your Teeth Than Fluoride; by Paul Fassa;

Is dark chocolate good for your teeth? by Redmond Dental Group;


Researchers have traditionally linked dental filling failure to the materials used. However, new research suggests that personal factors are also to blame. The results imply that personalized dental care could help improve treatment outcomes.

Genetic differences in some patients may be associated with dental filling failure.

Researchers say some genetic differences may be associated with dental filling failure.

Patient factors like smoking, drinking and genetics play a role in how well a dental filling performs, researchers now say. Specifically, “people who drink alcohol or men who smoke are more likely to suffer a failed dental filling.”

In addition, the researchers found that genetic differences in some patients are associated with dental filling failure.

The team also looked at traditional amalgam materials compared to newer resin fillers. They found “no major difference in filling failure rates” associated with the materials used.

Dental Filling Failure: The Traditional View

Dental fillings sometimes fail, and they do so for a variety of reasons. For example, the initial tooth decay may reemerge or the filling may become detached. Previously, it was not clear whether newer materials, such as composite resin fillings, were as tough as amalgam fillings. Solving this puzzle has helped drive the new research.

Working with a large number of records from a dental school in Pittsburgh, researchers investigated filling failure rates for patients. The data included information about dental filling failures that occurred within 5 years of the filling’s placement.

Overall, the team found that there were no major differences between filling failure rates for amalgam or composite fillings. They found the composite fillings to be at least as durable as the amalgam ones.

The Difference: Patient Based Factors

The records used also contained patient lifestyle information, such as smoking and drinking habits. Moreover, the records included a DNA sample from each patient. This allowed the team to look into whether these factors might have an effect on dental filling failure.

Researchers now say personal factors play a role in dental filling failure.

Researchers now say personal factors play a role in dental filling failure.

The results were eye opening. The team found that “within two years of the procedure, fillings failed more often in patients who drank alcohol.” In addition, in men who smoked, the overall filling failure rate was higher.

Furthermore, the researchers found a link between a genetic difference in an enzyme found in teeth and increased dental filling failure. They have not yet confirmed that this is responsible for filling failures. However, the data suggests that personal factors, rather than material properties may lead to failed fillings.

“A better understanding of individual susceptibility to dental disease and variation in treatment outcomes will allow the dental field to move forward,” a researcher involved in the study said. “In the future, genetic information may be used to personalize dental treatments and enhance treatment outcomes.”

Source: Frontiers. “Dental filling failure linked to smoking, drinking and genetics: A new study suggests that personal patient factors influence the chance of dental filling failure, rather than the choice of filling material.”  ScienceDaily, 6 November 2017.

Read Next: Top Dental News 2017

National Toothache Day is February 9thEach year, on February 9, the world celebrates “National Toothache Day.” Instead of concentrating on pain, it is a great time to discuss common tooth problems and to learn how to properly care for your oral health.

Following a solid oral hygiene routine and taking preventative measures can help you avoid toothache. It will keep your mouth looking and feeling its best, and it will also help you avoid the need for uncomfortable and time consuming trips to the dentist.

History of National Toothache Day

There are many myths related to this “holiday.” Many suspect that it was created by a dentist in response to the opening of the Hershey Chocolate Company.

Since chocolate is filled with sugar that can lead to cavities, this day was meant to help patients remember the importance of good oral health. A great way to celebrate is to make an appointment with your dentist so that you can receive a checkup or tips that will keep your mouth healthy.

It’s also a great time to look at your habits around  brushing, flossing and avoiding foods that can lead to cavities.

What Causes a Toothache?

Many things can lead to a toothache. Some of these include the following:

Abscess – An abscess is a painful infection that occurs at the root of a tooth or in the gums that surround it. Trauma, severe decay, or gum disease can lead to an abscess.

Decay – Cavities cause damage to tooth enamel and the internal dentin layer. They occur when the mouth’s bacteria is turned into acid, which attacks and causes decay.

Damaged Filling – Dental fillings are made to last, but they still fail from time to time, and that can lead to pain.

Gum Infections – If your gums become infected, you may experience pain in your teeth.

Fractured Teeth – Even a hairline fracture can lead to pain in your teeth.

Repetitive Action – If you grind your teeth or chew too roughly, you may cause damage to your teeth that leads to pain.

Since the face and mouth are filled with nerves, the pain from toothaches can be severe. Unlike other body parts, teeth are confined, and blood is restricted in the area. When an infection begins, pressure builds.

As this pressure becomes too great, the problem starts to affect the nerves and results in noticeable discomfort. As pain becomes overwhelming, it is necessary to visit a dental care provider for relief.

How to Prevent Toothache

It is possible to take some preventive measures so that a toothache does not develop.

  • To help avoid toothache, limit the amount of sugary foods you eat.

    To help avoid toothache, limit the amount of sugary foods you eat.

    Practice Good Oral Hygiene. The best way to prevent decay that leads to pain is by following a regular oral hygiene routine. For example, it is important to brush and floss daily. This removes food particles that become stuck on and in between teeth. Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash is important as well.

  • Avoid Sugary Food. To avoid problems that cause toothaches, it is best to limit the amount of sugary foods that you eat. Even when you do consume these items, it is wise to brush your teeth immediately.


  • Visit Your Dental Provider Regularly. When you schedule a yearly visit with your dental provider, you will receive a professional cleaning. Also, this professional will perform a routine exam so that small problems are detected before they become large and painful.

This occasion is the perfect time to pay attention to your oral health. It does not require a person to be in pain, but it will help to educate individuals who want to learn how to better care for their mouths. No matter how you celebrate, remember to smile big and to appreciate your teeth.

Read next: Can Dental Problems Cause Health Problems?

In addition to health insurance, people value dental and vision insurance very highly.

In addition to health insurance, people value dental and vision insurance very highly.

How job seekers rank the desirability of employment benefits can tell us a lot about people’s priorities in general. In 2017, Harvard Business Review shared the results of a study that looked into this issue. Their top findings are not too surprising. In addition to health insurance, people value dental and vision insurance very highly.

“As part of our study,” the researchers reported, “we gave 2,000 U.S. workers, ranging in age from 18 to 81, a list of 17 benefits and asked them how heavily they would weigh the options when deciding between a high-paying job and a lower-paying job with more perks.”

A whopping 88% of  the study respondents said they would give better health, dental and vision insurance “some consideration” (34%) or “heavy consideration” (54%) when making a job choice.

Affordable Dental and Vision Insurance

A dental and vision insurance bundle is not that hard to find. What many people don’t know, however, is that you don’t need to land a peach of a job to have access to this desirable pair. In addition, the relatively low cost of coupling the two may come as a surprise.

What can you do if dental and vision are not included in your job’s benefits package? Well, like millions of Americans, you can purchase these types of coverage for yourself and your loved ones.

Vision and dental insurance packages are available from a number of insurance companies. Two popular plans available from include the Dental Gold bundles from Delta Dental.

For as little as a $15 copay every 12 months, these plans include a WellVision Exam from a VSP Doctor that focuses on eye health and overall wellness. These plans also include prescription glasses discounts, as follows:

  • Lenses: 20% discount when a complete pair of glasses is purchased
  • Frames: 20% discount when a complete pair of glasses is purchased
  • Contacts: 15% discount off the contact lens fitting and evaluation exam

To learn more about some sample plans, simply click on the following links:

Dental for Everyone Gold PPO with Vision Plan Features

Dental for Everyone Gold PPO with Vision Plan Highlights

Also, check out our vision insurance page to learn more about some other options. We’re here to help you find the dental and vision insurance products you need. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to call our customer service number: (800) 296-3800.

The Importance of Dental and Vision Insurance

Life insurance plans and other types of insurance coverage are typically intended to help people after mishaps. However, Dental and vision insurance are more proactive in nature.  They are designed to help you stay as healthy as you can be.

Many people don’t seek proper preventative dental and vision treatment due to the out-of-pocket costs. Eye and dental exams can be expensive. Having a good eye care plan and dental coverage can help keep both your health and your budget on track.

Read next: Healthy Teeth, Healthy Body

For dental anxiety, sedation dentistry may help.Fear of having dental work done is a very familiar condition. Dental anxiety and dental phobia are terms that cover a variety of factors. These include fear of dentistry, fears about receiving dental care, and even fear of dental professionals.

Many people have had these types of feelings from time to time. Fear is natural in life. Some would even say it is necessary to survival. However, when fear interferes with seeking help or maintaining health, that’s a very real problem.

Fortunately, there are ways to ease dental anxiety. Sedation dentistry is one way that many dentists and their patients have found to be quite helpful.

Dental Anxiety Definition and Prevalence

It’s hard to say just how many people suffer from dental anxiety. A widely cited study found that nearly 12% of people who took part in a random phone survey said they had high dental fear. In addition, 17.5% of the survey sample had moderate dental fear.

More than a third of the people who took part in the survey – 36.5% – had not been to a dentist in over a year. The study leaders labeled people in this group as “dental avoiders.” Dental avoiders include people who will put up with embarrassment and physical pain rather than seek help.

Just under half of this group – 15.5% – also said they had “some degree of dental fear.” People who avoid the dentist out of fear may have gum infections, untreated cavities, even broken or crooked teeth. Yet, their fears prevent them from seeking the help they so badly need.

About Sedation Dentistry

For many, a trip to the dentist can be too much to bear. They may worry about the pain or the cost of treatment. Putting off treatment, however, can lead to problems with overall health. That’s because poor oral health may lead to infections, strokes and heart disease.

Dentists can offer medications that can help their patients get past their fears.

Dentists can offer medications that can help their patients get past their fears.

Dentists use a variety of medications to help stop pain. In addition, they can offer meds that can help their patients get past their fears. Patients typically remain awake when sedation is used. The various levels of sedation include the following:

  • Minimal: this is a state of wakeful relaxation
  • Moderate or “conscious” sedation: patients may slur their speech and not recall much of what happens while “under”
  • Deep:  patients are on the “edge of consciousness” near “sleep”

Unlike the above states, “general anesthesia” produces a fully unconscious state. Specially trained dentists may use this type of sedation in specific situations.

There is no reason to allow fear to undermine your health and happiness. If you are scared of the dentist but need treatment, sedation dentistry may help. Talk with your dentist or family physician about the problems you are facing so you can get the help you need.

Read next: Healthy Teeth, Healthy Body

Marketing messages have drilled the oral hygiene – bad breath connection into our brains for decades. So much so that the idea is almost a cliché for marketing fear tactics in general. Corny lines like, “Romance Blows a Fuse When Bad Breath Muscles In,” have helped toothpaste companies to rake in millions.

It is certainly true that the oral hygiene – bad breath connection is real. Up to a point, at least. Bad breath can come about in a number of ways. Some of these sit squarely in the oral hygiene camp. Others, not so much.

The Oral Hygiene – Bad Breath Connection in Action

the oral hygiene - bad breath connection

Oral hygiene products help keep your breath fresh, but could they mask deeper health issues?

The marketing mavens behind major oral hygiene products have made a strong case for the link between using their products and keeping breath fresh. Today, most people know that halitosis – another name for bad breath – can indeed arise from decaying food particles and stagnant saliva.

Bad breath can also be due to lingering aromas related to the foods we eat. Garlic and onions come immediately to mind. No one would argue that you ignore these symptoms. Regular brushing, flossing and rinsing remain the go-to hygiene practices for addressing these concerns.

However, bad breath may also be a sign of a problem that has little if anything to do with oral hygiene. When that’s the case, turning to oral hygiene products alone may not get to the root of the issue.

Where the Oral Hygiene – Bad Breath Connection Breaks Down

The truth is, bad breath is sometimes a symptom of something other than poor oral hygiene. When that’s the case, turning to these products may do nothing to address the true cause.

At times, bad breath may be related to gum disease. When that’s the case, you need more than over the counter products to get back on the track to oral health. You need the help of your dentist.

Regular dental exams are important to help your dentist detect gum disease early. Seeing your dentist two times a year is the best way to avoid the dangers of gum disease.

Moreover, bad breath can be an early sign of other health conditions. For example, liver disease, kidney disease, and diabetes can all produce bad breath. In such cases, no amount of rinsing, brushing, or flossing is going to help solve the real problem.

How Dental Insurance Can Help Keep Your Whole Body Healthy

Seeing your dentist on a regular basis can help ensure these potential causes of bad breath aren’t simply masked by the use of oral hygiene products. Regular professional cleanings help remove plaque, calculus and biofilm. This can dramatically decrease your risk of developing oral health issues.

Dental insurance usually includes two checkups a year.

Dental insurance usually includes two checkups a year.

However, there is another benefit to regular dental check-ups. Dentists perform many types of exams that help them assess the whole health of their patients. So, seeing your dentist twice a year means they are able to catch problems your primary care physician will want to know about.

Few people see their primary care physicians as frequently as people with dental insurance see their dentists. For the price of just pennies a day, dental insurance usually includes two checkups a year. However, the benefits – in many cases – go far beyond keeping your teeth healthy and your breath fresh.

Read Next: Healthy Teeth, Healthy Body

If you’re expecting, you may be wondering: Can I have dental work while pregnant? The truth is, staying on top of dental care during pregnancy is even more important than at other times.

Dental Care During PregnancyPoor oral hygiene has been tied to a number of health risks, including heart conditions. However, did you know there’s a link between oral health and being pregnant? For example, 60-75% of all pregnant women experience inflammation of the gums, according to the American Dental Association.

Pregnancy, like menopause and menstruation, makes for gums that are more sensitive. In fact, the condition is so prevalent it has a name: “pregnancy gingivitis.” Researchers think this is due to the increase in hormones pregnant women experience. Changes in diet and eating habits while pregnant may also be partly to blame.

Many women ask, “Can tooth decay harm my unborn baby?” Some studies suggest that poor oral health during pregnancy may indeed lead to premature birth or low birth weight. Moreover, after delivery, mothers with poor oral health may pass bacteria that cause cavities along to their children.

Help Ensure a Healthy Pregnancy

Mothers-to-be can do many things to help ensure a healthy pregnancy. To begin with, you can go in to see your dentist for a full exam. Let your dentist know that you are, or think you are, pregnant.

dental care during pregnancy

Your dentist can carry out many dental procedures safely during pregnancy.

Your dentist can carry out many dental procedures safely during pregnancy. Your dentist may even recommend some extra steps at this time. For example, she may suggest that you come in for extra teeth cleaning in third trimester to help avoid gum disease.

In addition, there are easy things that you can do on your own. For one, try to limit sugary snacks between meals. Moreover, of course, you should be vigilant about regular brushing and flossing.

Dental X-Rays During Pregnancy

Dentists rely on x-rays to assess oral health. The x-ray process helps your dentist see more clearly what’s going on with your teeth and gums.

There may be no need to put off dental x-rays if you’re pregnant. Exposure to radiation from x-rays is very small compared to the daily exposure we receive from our natural environment.

Therefore, if she believes you need to move forward with dental work before your baby is born, your dentist may ask for x-rays. If so, remember: X-rays not only help ensure your oral health; they may also reveal dental issues that could harm your child.

Consider Your Child’s Oral Health before the Bundle of Joy Arrives

Oral health is a key part of overall health. Therefore, it’s not surprising that a mother’s oral health also plays a role in the health of the baby she’s carrying.

To revise the old saying, mothers-to-be are not only eating for two, they’re also brushing and flossing for more than just themselves. So take extra steps to maintain your oral health when pregnant. You and junior will both be glad you did.

Some of the benefits of a dental care routine include saving time and getting important things done.

Some of the benefits of a dental care routine include saving time and getting important things done.

Do you have a dental care routine? Most people recognize the importance of a having a regular routine to follow. However, not everyone has a set routine to follow when it comes to oral health.

Some of the benefits of a routine include saving time and getting important things done. Routines also help instill good habits and reduce procrastination. All of these are important for good oral health.

Here are some things to think about to help make your dental care routine as efficient as possible.

Your Dental Care Routine: Master Your Boring but Essential Healthcare Needs

Routines are especially important for boring but essential tasks such as dental care. It’s easy to be caught up in the rush of the morning. Before you know it, it’s time to head out the door for work.

In the same way, when bedtime rolls around, the pillow often beckons louder than the toothbrush. Having a regular dental care routine can help ensure that your teeth and mouth get the attention they need and deserve.

To be effective, your dental care routine should be both general and specific. By general, we mean that there are certain things everyone should do. By specific, we mean the things that make your routine truly personal.

Prepare for Your General Dental Care Routine

A regular, daily routine for oral care helps prevent cavities and periodontal disease. In addition, good oral health helps you to keep your body healthy, too. Like all routines, dental care takes preparation.

Basic dental care begins with brushing teeth at least twice a day. This is the best way to protect your teeth from plaque, which can lead to cavities.

Toothbrushes are the most important item for establishing your routine. Be sure you have extras on hand so that you are never without one. Keeping one in your purse or briefcase can help ensure that you are prepared even when you’re away from home.

Next, be sure you have toothpaste, both at home and when you’re away from home. You may also want to keep a backup tube in the cabinet so you won’t run out. Finally, keep dental floss handy, both at home and at work so you are always prepared.

If you need to brush up on how to choose and use these key oral care tools, read our Basic Oral Hygiene Overview.

Next, Make Your Dental Care Routine Personal

Now that you’re well prepared, think about what you can do to make your routine truly personal.

Adding personal touches gives you a sense of ownership and accomplishment. Each time you repeat your personal routine, you make it more permanent and effective.

There are many ways to do this. For example, decide whether you are going to brush in the morning before or after you dress for work. Then, stick with your personal choice. In the evening, you might decide to brush before or after putting on your pajamas.

Some people run through a song in their head to ensure they spend the right amount of time brushing. Electric toothbrushes have built in timers for this very reason. Phone apps can help make sure you brush for the right amount of time. To get into your routine, you might choose to set a daily reminder on your phone for a few weeks.

In addition, as you brush or floss, you might start in the same place each time. Then, work around your mouth in a systematic way every time until it becomes a habit. Doing so can free up your mind to think about other things, without the risk of skipping or missing key areas.

Read Next: 5 Reasons Healthy Smiles Lead to Success