Check out these mini infographics, which help explain the current state of oral health in the US. [Click images for larger versions.]

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Baking soda and water.

Add a teaspoon of either baking soda or sea salt to a cup of water, gargle and spit, and then rinse with clean water.

Have you run out of a basic oral hygiene product? No problem.

There are a number of fairly common household items that can stand in for your favorite toothpaste or dental floss until you can make it to the store.

Here are a few time-tested tips and tricks for making do with what you (probably) have on hand the next time you run out of dental care basics or – bummer! – your 2 year old accidentally drops your toothbrush into the john.

Oral care without a toothbrush:

  • Use your finger: place a dab of toothpaste on your pointer finger and rub all the surfaces of your teeth
  • Try a wash cloth: Wrap a terry wash cloth around a fingertip, apply paste, and use the improvised brush to brush as normal
  • Chew sugar free gum: Chewing sugar free gum when you can’t brush can help to reduce plaque and prevent cavities

Oral care without toothpaste:

  • Do without: use your toothbrush dry or with a little water to brush as you normally would
  • Use baking soda or sea salt: dampen the bristles of the toothbrush and dip them into a shallow dish of either baking soda, sea salt or a mixture of both, and go to it – Gently!
  • Use coconut oil: place a small amount of coconut oil (which recent studies suggest can help fight tooth decay) on your toothbrush and brush as usual

Oral care without floss:

  • Try a toothpick: while a toothpick is certainly not the recommended method for cleaning between teeth, it’s still better than nothing when there’s no floss on hand
  • Use a length of sewing thread: gently draw the thread between your teeth as you would with dental floss, but be careful that it does not snap up against the gum too aggressively
  • Use a piece of paper: while not really workable for cleaning all your teeth, a piece of paper may help to dislodge articles between front teeth when dental floss or another interdental device is unavailable: careful though – paper can cut

 Oral care without mouthwash:

  • Make a baking soda or sea salt rinse: add a teaspoon of either baking soda or sea salt to a cup of water, gargle and spit, and then rinse with clean water
  • Try vinegar: like salt, vinegar is one of the most ancient of mouthwash ingredients; simply gargle, spit, and rinse
  • Raid the liquor cabinet: in a pinch, an alcoholic beverage such as vodka or brandy can be used as an effective oral rinse

Don’t put off replacing basic oral hygiene products

Of course, none of the tips and tricks above are meant to be permanent replacements for dentist-approved oral care products. However, the next time you forget to pack a toothbrush or discover there are only 2 inches of dental floss left, at least you’ll have some ideas to help you get by.

And here’s a final tip – stock up on the items you use, and you’ll never have to try any of the tips in this post.

So, what do you use when you run out of an oral hygiene product?

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Prevent vs. Restore

It pays to invest in prevention when it comes to protecting your teeth. [Click to view larger image.]

The Affordable Care Act mandates dental coverage for children 18 and younger, but it leaves adults to fend for themselves where oral health is concerned. That’s a shame. The connection between oral health and overall health is well documented, and leaving adult dental coverage off the list of essential health benefits sends the wrong message about the importance oral health.

Dental insurance is unique among insurance products in several ways:

First, the generally low cost of dental insurance makes it highly affordable for many individuals and families.

Secondly, many people who purchase dental insurance start to benefit immediately, because dental insurance encourages, and generally pays for, regular check-ups.

The Top 3 Reasons Why Dental Insurance Makes Sense

The truth is, even without a federal mandate, people have bought – and will continue to buy – dental insurance for a variety of reasons.

Here are three of the most common reasons for buying dental insurance:

Reason 1:  To Pay for Costly Care

Dental care can be as simple as a twice-yearly visit for a professional cleaning and x-rays. On the other hand, it can involve costly care, such as oral surgery, getting a full set of dentures, or needing a crown.

…expenses can mount quickly – especially if dental work is required as a result of an emergency…

Because expenses can mount quickly – especially if dental work is required as a result of an emergency – it truly pays to be covered. Depending on the type of insurance, dental plans generally pay either all or a percentage of the charges related to dental care.

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Reason 2:  To Maintain a Healthy Mouth

Preventing oral health problems before they start is one of the best ways to keep dental costs down. Many studies have shown that regular dental check-ups and cleanings help people keep their teeth and gums healthy. That’s why most insurance plans pay 100% for check-ups every 6 months.

Just how important is preventive care? Well, let’s put it this way: It’s important enough that some dental insurance plans will even pay for a check-up immediately after new plan subscribers are approved for coverage.

Reason 3: To Protect Overall Health   

You may not know it, but the truth is, there’s an awful lot a dentist can tell while gazing into your mouth. Studies have shown that our mouths can exhibit symptoms related to more than 120 different non-dental diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.

So even if there’s nothing wrong with your teeth and gums (and we certainly hope that’s the case!), visiting a dentist regularly can lead to early detection of serious diseases, which alone can make dental insurance well worth the investment.

Peace of Mind…and a Gorgeous Smile, to Boot

The lifetime cost of maintaining a healthy mouth can mount to thousands of dollars, but for pennies a day, dental insurance will be there to provide important benefits when needed.

To learn more about the types of dental insurance available and find answers to your questions about dental insurance and oral care, visit the DentalInsurance.com knowledge base.

Learn More: Preventative Dentistry