Ester Marsh column: Healthy teeth and gums

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 30, 2022

Healthy teeth and gums are as important as a healthy body, spirit and mind.

Being born and raised in the Netherlands, we didn’t have city water which is fortified with fluoride and other minerals. I was also born and raised in a bakery where you smelled the wonderful fresh breads and pastries each day of the week. Genetically, I don’t have strong teeth, and they have been a challenge throughout my life. As soon as we had teeth, we were at the dentist every six months and I still continue going every six months (and more when issues arise). I have been challenged with cavities, root canals, crowns and broken and breaking teeth my whole life. But I also know how important healthy teeth are to a healthy lifestyle so I keep on brushing and flossing trying to keep them as healthy as possible.

About 5 years ago, I went to Busby and Webb orthodontics to get braces on my bottom teeth which were very crooked. My only regret is that I did not do it sooner because I could have saved many of my teeth if I had them straightened sooner. I can keep them clean so much better and the inside doesn’t get stained like it used to by drinking coffee and my red wine because they were so crooked and it was hard to get a brush in those places. Even that my insurance would not pay for braces because I am an adult, it has been totally worth it getting my bottom braces (the top fortunately has been fine) for a healthier, happier mouth!

Did you know how important healthy teeth and gums are? Taking good care of teeth and gums prevents bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. When you don’t take of them, the normal bacteria living in your mouth takes over and breaks down into an acid which will eat away on tooth enamel causing cavities. If you are like me, I am just unfortunate on the teeth part genetically. I brush at least twice a day and floss daily, and have been going to the dentist every six months my whole life, but I still have had cavities and other tooth-related problems. However, I also believe if I hadn’t  taken such good care of them, I would have had full dentures by now. By going to the dentist every six months, they can do a thorough cleaning which takes off the plaque which builds up on your teeth, Plaque buildup causes gum disease, making your gums red, swollen and painful. It’s amazing how mouth health can affect your whole body! Bad mouth health can affect heart health and cardiovascular disease. The bad bacteria in your mouth can go into the bloodstream and cause inflammation and infections. It even has been linked to premature births and low birth weight in babies, just to name a few. So what can you do to keep a healthy mouth and teeth?

• Brush with toothpaste at least two times a day for a minimum of two minutes

• Floss daily

• Eat a healthy diet and limit your sugars

• Replace toothbrush every two to three months or when your bristles of your brush are frayed

• Regular dental checkups which the recommendation is every six months

• Avoid tobacco use

Many people are terrified of the dentist. I understand, I had my fair share of the scary ones. Find one you trust and who is willing to listen. There are so many ways they can prevent pain and discomfort now to make your visit pleasant, or for some, doable. I went to Dr. Hartung for years but he is retired now and has sold his business to Dr. Dave Rosenthal and the office is now called Town Creek Dental (you can call them at 704-762-9669 in case you are in need of a fabulous dentist). I had my first appointment with him this past week. I am very comfortable with him, and he was very thorough. I am fully confident he will take great care of my teeth and mouth. I have had some dentists in my life that were not that way and my teeth (and wallet) paid the price for it. Many dentists nowadays, including Dr. Hartung and now Dr. Rosenthal, help many people who were terrified of the dentist to become comfortable and help them to healthier teeth and a healthier mouth. So don’t be scared, whether it is your dental checkup or getting braces to get a healthier more beautiful mouth. Your healthy lifestyle includes healthy teeth and gums!

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA.