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Salud America! Guest Blogger
Jefferson Dental Care
You’ve heard it before: Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing are two of the best ways to keep your mouth healthy.
But do Latinos and others follow this advice?
Actually, 30% of Americans do not brush their teeth twice a day, according to figures from the American Dental Association.
Skipping brushing can lead to tooth decay—which disproportionately occurs in Latino children—tooth loss and other serious health problems.
“Poor oral health has been linked to chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart attack, stroke, breast cancer and many others,” said Dr. Leslie Renee Townsend, regional dental director for Jefferson Dental Care. “Moreover, at-home dental care is crucial to keeping plaque and tartar from building up on the teeth.”
The Latino population experiences a high level of tooth decay in childhood, which extends to high rates of lost teeth in adulthood.
About 75% of Latino men and nearly 80% of Latinas were missing at least one tooth, according to the Hispanic Community Health Study. Cubans and South Americans were the most likely to have a missing tooth.
Many Latinos don’t seek dental treatment for decay that leads to tooth loss.
Moreover, poor oral hygiene can compound with risk factors like smoking and tobacco use, chronic diseases like HIV or diabetes, frequent alcohol use, poor diet, age, or gender, further impacting Latinos and other populations that are disproportionately impacted by poor oral health.
“Cavities are 100% preventable. Focus on daily preventative care verses restorative treatment,” Townsend said. “Take care of your teeth and gums, and you diminish your risk of developing oral health issues and lower your risk factors for other conditions.”
While not brushing enough definitely presents a problem, it is also possible to brush too frequently, which can erode tooth enamel.
“Brushing twice a day or three times maximum, paired with flossing and mouthwash is sufficient for keeping the teeth and gums clean,” Townsend said. “Visit the dentist every six months for a professional exam and cleaning to screen for potential oral health issues.”
For more dental care resources and tips, visit Jefferson Dental Care.
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By The Numbers
of Latinos remain without health insurance coverage