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Dental Care Checklist - Adults

By now you probably have a pretty solid dental care routine. Is anything missing? Compare your list to ours:

√ Don't let visits slide; see your dentist every six months! We know you're busy, juggling work life and home life. But even when you think you can't squeeze in a dental visit, don't give in to the temptation. Making time for regular dental visits now can help keep you out of the dental office in the future.
√ Brush and floss daily, even when you're tired. The importance of regular brushing and flossing can never be emphasized enough. Even if you've been good about your oral hygiene all your life, don't let it slide -- not even for a day. The longer plaque stays on your teeth the more harmful it becomes.

√ Eat well-balanced meals. When you're juggling work, home and kids, fast food, soda and sugary snacks might be easy options. But sugar is a tooth decay demon and can cause you to "crash." Instead, make it a point to add vegetables to your meals and eat smart snacks like fruit, nuts and celery or carrot sticks.

√ Exercise regularly; it's good for your teeth! Studies show that people who maintain a healthy lifestyle -- exercise and eating right -- are 40 percent less likely to develop periodontitis (advanced gum disease).

√ Consider cosmetic dentistry. From quick boosts to complete smile makeovers, there are plenty of cosmetic dental options. One-hour laser teeth whitening treatments can make your teeth 8-10 shades whiter, and veneers can mask stained teeth, chipped teeth or crooked teeth.

Keep an eye on:

Excessive Drinking -- Many adults wind down their day with a glass of wine or a stiff cocktail. However, if you drink excessively you could be at risk for both alcoholism and oral cancer. Be sure to see your dentist if you think you could be at risk.

Smoking Risks -- It's well know that smoking cigarettes has been linked to lung cancer and birth defects. But it can can also increase your chances of oral cancer and gum disease as well as tooth loss. Good oral hygiene practices, regular dental visits and gum disease treatment are even more crucial if you smoke, so be vigilant!

Pregnancy Gingivitis -- Some pregnant women develop gum tumors, but about 50 percent of pregnant women experience pregnancy gingivitis, which can turn into periodontal disease if left untreated. But remember, dental disease isn't inevitable. Practicing good oral hygiene habits can help reduce your risk and so can visiting the dentist every six months!

Diabetes Complications -- Adults 45 and older are more vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes. If you're in this age group, the last thing you want to do is be lax about your health -- including your oral hygiene routine. Daily brushing and flossing are essential because the poor blood sucrose control associated with diabetes can make your gums more vulnerable to gum disease.