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Make your dazzling smile a sign of great healthy teeth

(NC) An attractive smile can increase one's confidence, sociability and sense of well-being – and may even attract a mate. But behind a dazzling smile, maintaining healthy teeth and gums is also important to prevent serious conditions including diabetes and respiratory diseases.

Untreated cavities can be painful and may lead to serious infections and gum disease. When plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, thickens on the teeth, it can harden into tartar and contribute to gum infections. Left untreated, gum disease can cause loss of teeth and risk of serious illness. Bacteria in plaque can travel from the mouth to the lungs, causing lung infections.

Poor oral health has also been linked to sleeping problems, behavioural and developmental problems in children, and can affect one's ability to chew and digest food properly. Researchers are investigating possible links between poor oral health and heart disease and between poor oral health and women delivering pre-term, low birth rate babies.

While oral health is important at all ages, older adults may have less access to oral care services and dental professionals if living on fixed incomes without dental insurance. Seniors in long-term care facilities may be especially susceptible to complications from poor oral health because of frailty, poor health and increased dependence on others for personal care. In many cases, oral health problems in residents go undetected until there are acute symptoms, such as pain or infection.

The best defense is prevention by removing plaque every day. Do it with brushing and flossing before it can build up and harden into tartar.

To make this daily regimen much easier, the inventor of Sonicare technology, Philips, has applied its knowledge to help us maintain good oral health. Their spokesperson, dentist Dr. Uche Odiatu recommends the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean power toothbrush that has been proven to remove up to seven times more plaque than a manual toothbrush, and improve gum health in only two weeks. Philips Sonicare's patented sonic technology drives fluid activity between teeth, disrupting plaque and bacteria where bristles can't reach. In addition, the Philips Sonicare AirFloss is designed for people who don't floss. It uses unique microburst technology to send pressurized air and water between teeth to remove up to five times more plaque than a manual toothbrush and cleans the entire mouth in just 30 seconds.

With the right tools, we can be sure that our bright smiles are also an indication of great overall health.

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Health Canada. It's Your Health - The effects of Oral Health on Overall Health. November 2009

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