Doctors: Regular dental checkups can go beyond good mouth health

Sets of model teeth are available to show patients at Kierl Orthodontics in Edmond, Okla. (KOKH/Ben Latham)

Good mouth health can mean good health in general. That's why doctors in the metro say you need to make a trip to the dentist's office part of your routine.

At Kierl Orthodontics in Edmond, doctors say this time of year is busy with patients trying to get in before summer break ends.

Dr. Philip Kierl says taking care of your teeth can make you feel better.

"Just improving the straightness or the quality of someone's smile, it can improve someone's self-esteem," he said.

But there's more to it.

"There are people who may not realize that having orthodontics is not just about straight teeth but also having a good healthy bite, and good healthy mouth and jaw joints," he said.

Dr. Peter Kierl points out, benefits can also go beyond the mouth and help prevent disease.

"Sources of infection that come in the mouth can spread to the bone and cause overall problems," he said.

The CDC says studies have linked oral health problems to arthritis, emphysema, diabetes, hepatitis C, heart disease and stroke.

You should also think about tooth decay and gum disease.

So, the Kierls say you should make sure good habits start young. Your children should have their first dental visits by one-year-old. At seven-years old, children should be taken to the orthodontist. Children, and especially adults, should go in for a cleaning and checkup twice a year.

"You have the dental hygienist taking a look at you, you have the dentist taking a look at you, and they're both watching for problems as you get older," Peter Kierl said.

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