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Simple Ways To Improve Oral Health: Are You Healthier Than An Olympic Athelete?

You probably don't think that being in better health than an Olympic athlete is something you can easily achieve, but by adopting some simple ways to improve oral health, you'll be the one wearing the gold medal. A recent study by the London Eastman Dental Institute in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined the oral health of London 2012 Olympic athletes and revealed that 55 percent had cavities, 76 percent had gingivitis (inflammation or infection of the gums) and 15 percent had periodontitis (inflammation or infection of the gums spreading to the ligaments and bone that support the teeth). Nearly half of these athletes had not received a dental examination or dental hygiene care in the previous year.

It was concluded that the oral health of these athletes was poor. Many of them felt it had a negative impact on their athletic performance and well-being.

The Right Tools for The Right Regimen

Practicing proper oral hygiene regimens and using the right tools are really important ways to improve oral health. The American Dental Association's (ADA) Mouth Healthy site recommends brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste to help remove food and plaque (a sticky film of bacteria that forms at the gum line and on the teeth). Correct brushing technique is to place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward your gum line and gently move the bristles back and forth in short strokes. Make sure to brush the outer, inner and biting surfaces of all your teeth. Brush your tongue as well, or use a tongue cleaner. Use a toothbrush that fits comfortably in your mouth and a toothpaste containing active ingredients that can help protect you from specific problems, such as cavities, gum disease, bad breath, tartar buildup, stains or sensitivity; Colgate® Sensitive Pro-Relief in particular addresses sensitivity. The ADA also recommends including an interdental cleaner such as floss once a day as part of a daily routine for a healthy mouth.

Other Ways to Improve Oral Health

About the author: Dianne L. Sefo is a dental hygienist and dental hygiene educator. She has been involved in multiple publications, has worked in private practices in New York and Southern California, and has been a faculty member at Monroe Community College, Concorde Careers College — San Diego, and New York University.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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