Before you fly south, be sure to schedule a check up with your dental hygienist. As your mouth ages, it needs more TLC. Taking good care of your teeth and gums benefits your overall health – and you want to be able to enjoy all that lovely winter sunshine, right?

According to the Ontario Dental Hygienists Association (ODHA), periodontal (gum) disease is linked to conditions like heart disease, stroke and respiratory disorders. Gum disease may aggravate diabetes and can make the complications caused by diabetes worse.

To make the most of your time away, here are six steps to keeping your mouth healthy and happy:

  • Eat well
  • Brush your tongue, gums and the roof of the mouth daily to tone gum tissue and remove bacteria
  • Natural Teeth:
    • Brush natural teeth twice a day – especially those holding a partial plate
    • Floss your teeth once a day ? a one-handled flosser is easier for some
    • Clean those larger spaces between your teeth and massage your gums using a rubber tip stimulator, wooden dental pick or a small brush
  • Dentures:
    • Brush all dentures twice a day to remove food debris and reduce odours
    • Use warm water and a mild soap or denture cream – do NOT use toothpaste or other cleansers that could leave scratches
    • NEVER use bleach to clean or soak dentures – if it doesn’t discolour them, it will surely weaken them
    • Do not let your dentures dry out – soak them in water or a denture cleaning solution over night or any time they are out of your mouth
    • Rinse dentures in warm water before putting them in your mouth – some denture cleansers may be toxic
  • Dental Implants: Brush and floss as you would your natural teeth, BUT do so much more gently as the dental implant is not as strong
  • Oral Cancer Screening: Keep an eye on your mouth – report any of these to a dental professional
    • Red or white patches
    • Sores that don’t heal within a few days
    • Swelling or changes in the colour of the tissue in your mouth