We have long associated oral health with tooth decay and gum disease. There is now growing evidence that the state of our oral health may be linked to other health conditions such as premature and low birth weight babies, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and diabetes. Researchers believe that the build-up of oral bacteria through poor oral hygiene practices can lead to serious health concerns. Although scientists are only just beginning to understand this link, it is important for people to make oral health care a regular part of a healthy lifestyle.
The key is prevention. Less than five minutes twice a day is all it takes to maintain or improve oral hygiene. This may be easier for some to accomplish than others. Physical restrictions or disabilities may make oral care difficult or impossible. Care providers must be sure that brushing and flossing is part of the daily routine for those unable to manage on their own. It is never too early – or too late – to develop good oral habits.