Here in Pennsylvania, our football team may be No. 1 (Go Eagles!), but, according to WalletHub, our oral health is seriously lacking. That’s because out of a study of all 50 states, the Keystone State ranked a dismal 29. That’s the bottom half of the nation’s oral health, and it means that 28 states are doing a better job with their oral health than we are. That’s nothing to smile about.
The study, titled “2018’s States with the Best & Worst Dental Health,” rated all 50 states based on 25 criteria, including:
• Percentage of adolescents who visited the dentist last year
• Oral health knowledge
• Oral health condition
• Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among adults
In the survey, Pennsylvania ranked No. 29, with a total score of 55.12. Our “Dental Habits and Care” score is a cringeworthy 32, and our “Oral Health” rank is 26, which is slightly better, but still not great. On a more positive note, Pennsylvania ranked No. 2 for the “Highest Percentage of Adolescents Who Visited a Dentist in the Past Year,” but we didn’t make any other top or bottom five lists in the rest of the study.
So, while it’s great to note that we are doing a good job getting our teens to the dentist, based on the other criteria of the survey, here’s what we could be doing a whole lot better:
• Smoking less
• Visiting the dentist more (as adults)
• Cutting out sweetened beverages
• Taking better care of our overall oral health
While these all seem pretty self-explanatory, there are definitely things we can do to change our state’s ranking. First of all, quitting smoking is not only good for bringing up our score, but it very possibly could also save your teeth and your life. If you are interested in quitting, please speak to Dr. George for some ideas to help make the process easier.
As for the rest, make sure you visit Dr. George for an exam and cleaning at least twice a year. This will not only keep your teeth looking cleaner and whiter, but it can also help stave off any health problems that could end up becoming serious in the future, such as periodontitis, oral cancer or TMJD.
To reduce your consumption of sugary drinks, try to swap out at least one sugary drink a day for water, unsweetened iced tea or even milk or seltzer. Even diet soda is better than regular when it comes to sugar! Once you can swap out one, try for two, and so on. Before you know it, you may realize you don’t need sugary drinks at all.
Finally, when you take excellent care of your oral health, everything else falls into place. Brush twice a day, for at least two minutes a day. Floss your teeth at least once a day, preferably at bedtime. Flossing helps clean about 40 percent of the surface of your teeth you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise and is essential for helping to remove the plaque and bacteria that cause everything from cavities to periodontal disease.
If you have any questions about how to better care for your and your family’s oral health, give Dr. George a call at 724-934-3244.