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What Do Sunscreen and Toothpaste Have in Common?

By Jill Feilmeier on June 19, 2014 in Dental Health

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If you said, “They're both sold in tubes,” you would be right. However, sunscreen and toothpaste share a far more important trait: they both highlight the healthy benefits of preventive care.

Preventive care seeks to protect against threats to your health by taking precautions ahead of time. It's as simple as that. It is better to slather on the sunscreen and prevent skin damage, rather than apply aloe to a painful sunburn after the fact.

Likewise, it makes more sense to establish good oral health behaviors and care for your teeth rather than deal with the complications of cavities and gum disease. In fact, dental disease is nearly 100 percent preventable if you embrace a few basic oral health habits. And while you're likely familiar with most of these, a little reminder of why they're so important never hurts:

Brushing: This removes cavity-causing bacteria from your surface enamel. Try to brush at least twice per day for two to three minutes each time using a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste.

Flossing: This helps remove bacteria and food particles from in between your teeth. Use roughly a foot and a half of floss per session – and devote a clean section to each tooth. Be gentle to avoid gum damage.

Mouthwash: This can help diminish bacteria buildup in the mouth and prevent plaque buildup. However, it's not a substitute for brushing. Be sure to choose an antiseptic rinse, and talk to your dentist to determine which mouthwash is right for you.

Dental Check-ups: Regular visits to the dentist ensure your teeth get a professional cleaning. This also gives your dentist an opportunity to check your mouth for other health indicators. In fact, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases have oral characteristics that can be spotted during an oral exam.

Here's a fact that might make your jaw drop: preventive dental care – along with early detection and treatment – saves the U.S. nearly $4 billion annually. Prevent dental disease by sticking to these basics and you'll be taking the right steps toward optimal oral health. And hey, if you're stepping outside, don't forget the SPF!