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    Your Mouth is a Window

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | October 24th, 2021

    Your Mouth is a Window

    There are people still surprised when they come to me for their annual well-woman exam and I ask, when did you last see a dentist?  Before the pandemic, I would look in the mouth, however, with everyone wearing a mask, I am going to leave that exam for the dentist and just ask the question.

    October is National Dental Hygiene Month and I want to remind everyone that dental health is important. I know that a lot of us did not go to the dentist in 2020 but I am hoping that we will get back on the bandwagon especially if you have swollen or bleeding gums, a toothache, or problems eating or chewing food. 

    The mouth is considered the ‘window to general health’. Poor oral health has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory infection. In pregnant women, it has been linked to premature delivery and low birth weight. Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), oral health disparities are profound in the United States. Despite major improvement in oral health for the population as a whole, oral health disparities exist for many racial and ethnic groups, by socioeconomic status, gender, age, and geographic location.

    Dental care can be expensive, but it is extremely important. If you do not have dental insurance consider making an appointment at a dental school near you. Although there are student doctors, they are supervised by a senior physician. If you do not have a dental school nearby, place low-cost or free dental care near me in your search engine to find a community clinic near you. Do not let a lack of dental insurance prevent you from getting care. 

    What do you do between your dental appointments? As part of National Dental Hygiene Month remember to:

    1. Use the tongue scraper – It is not always talked about in the dental office, however, I have been doing this daily since I went on my yoga retreat in 2016. For those unfamiliar with tongue scraping, the benefits include:
    • Reducing the toxins and bacteria in the tongue that causes bad breath.
    • Improves the taste of food
    • Improves digestion
    • Improves your immunity
    1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day – I use an electric and manual toothbrush in the morning and a manual one in the evening. Change your toothbrush at least every 3 months and after you have been sick.
    2. Floss daily – there is always some controversy when it comes to flossing. I do not see any downside and it is recommended by dental professionals.
    3. Get your routine dental checkup/cleaning twice a year
    4. Eat a healthy diet – avoid those sugary drinks and candy that sticks to your teeth.
    5. Avoid tobacco

    If you are new to tongue scraping, make sure you get a tongue scraper that is stainless steel. Plastic does not work as well. The cost of a tongue scraper is $7.00 – $10.00. You can click here for instructions on how to scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper. You can substitute with a metal spoon initially. 

    6 Responses to “Your Mouth is a Window”

    1. Linda K. Jackson says:

      Excellent, excellent, excellent information! Although I DREAD going to the dentist, I do follow my dentist’s recommendations to get my teeth cleaned four times a year, to ward off periodontal disease (to which I’m predisposed), and get a deep-cleaning when recommended.

      • Ngozi Osuagwu, MD says:

        I do not think many of us like going to the dentist, but if we keep up with our cleaning, they are less likely to find anything wrong. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Chinyere says:

      Thank You for this reminder. I am one of those people who dread going to the dentist. I must confess that I have not had a dental visit in a long time. I stopped going because my then dentist will always comment on how great my teeth are. Then, I figured, why pay him for routine cleanings, I can do it myself. I brush twice a day, floss and gargle.
      But, I will schedule a dental appointment soon. Thank you!!

      • Ngozi Osuagwu, MD says:

        I am happy you are doing a great job with your oral health, but I still think it is a good idea to go at least once a year. Thanks for sharing.

    3. Dayna Hale says:

      Tongue scrapers are out of stock…I assume because of this blog:) Good info!

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