The month of October is National Dental Hygiene Month, and the Florida Department of Health in Marion County is encouraging members of the community to adopt better dental hygiene practices to improve and maintain good health.
While the mouth is full of bacteria, most of which is harmless, poor oral health can allow infectious bacteria to seep into your system. According to the American Dental Association, this harmful bacteria not only causes problems in the mouth (decay, gum disease, etc.), but it can also create a connection to conditions throughout the body, such as pneumonia, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Tooth decay and other common, related diseases are preventable, and the Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion) offers the following tips to help keep your teeth and gums healthy:
- Eliminate sugary drinks and snacks from your diet. Excessive consumption of foods such as soft drinks, sweet tea, dairy creamers, or candy can degrade the hard layer of enamel that protects your teeth.
- Brush twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time and combine that with daily flossing to ensure you clean the gums where brushing cannot reach. Such practices can defend against the growth of the slimy layer of germs called plaque, which can lead to cavities when combined with sugars.
- Boost your diet with foods rich in minerals that are found in natural dairy products and vegetables.
- Make regular visits to the dentist and dental hygienist to prevent the spread of bacteria and decay during your lifetime. Children should be seen by a dentist as soon as they get their first tooth, which should be brushed daily too.
- Stop smoking. Smokers are up to seven times as likely to develop periodontitis, which is the inflammation of the bone and ligaments located around our teeth and which leads to tooth loss.
- For children, when permanent teeth begin to erupt, beginning as young as age 5, seek to have sealants applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth in the back of the mouth to prevent decay of those new permanent teeth.
DOH-Marion can help residents with their dental care needs. The department’s dental team provides care to students in Marion County schools through the school-based Sealant Teledentistry Program.
In addition, DOH-Marion operates its own dental clinic, which is located at the College of Central Florida’s Hampton Center (1501 W Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala). The clinic’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to DOH-Marion, the dental clinic provides a variety of diagnostic, restorative, and preventive care for both adults and children. Those services include exams, x-rays, cleanings, fillings, and more.
The clinic accepts Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and many dental insurance plans. For those who lack insurance, the clinic’s services are available for fees that are charged according to an income-based sliding scale.
For more information, please call 352-622-2664 or visit the Florida Department of Health in Marion County’s website.