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Background image: A mother, daughter and father participate in the Dental Health Campaign.

Improving Overall Health

Clean Smiles = Healthy Bodies is a public awareness campaign aimed at improving the oral health of uninsured and underinsured residents in the rural communities of Lincoln and east Linn counties.

The goals for the campaign are to raise awareness about:

  • The integral connection between oral health and overall health
  • How poor oral health can lead to chronic disease such as diabetes
  • How good oral health is very important during pregnancy to reduce early childhood caries and tooth decay
  • The new oral health services available through Healthy Smiles for All initiative

Oral Hygiene Improves Overall Health

Though you don’t go see your regular primary care doctor for dental care, the health of your teeth and gums is linked to the health of your entire body. Taking good care of your mouth can lower your risk for diabetes, heart attack, stroke, premature births and other health problems.

Good oral hygiene (mouth care) is about more than a thumbs up and a reminder to floss from your dentist at your regular dental checkups. It’s about taking care of your whole body. So as you stay focused on eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and managing stress, remember your mouth. It’s the gateway to a healthier you.

Try these tips to keep your smile bright and your mouth healthy:
  • Brushing - Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Be sure to brush for two minutes at a time. Avoid brushing your teeth for 30 minutes after eating or drinking acidic foods as the acid can weaken teeth enamel. Parents or caregivers should start brushing their child’s tooth as soon as the first tooth appears.
  • Flossing - Floss daily. Flossing removes food and plaque — a sticky film that forms on your teeth and contains harmful bacteria. Flossing before you brush provides fluoride in toothpaste a better chance to reach between teeth. Parents or caregivers should start flossing their child’s teeth as soon as there are two teeth that touch.
  • Checkups - Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings. Be sure you receive an oral cancer screening to spot cancerous or precancerous cells. Children should have their first dentist visit by the age of 1 or within six months after their first tooth erupts.
  • Toothbrush hygiene - Never share toothbrushes. Keep your toothbrush clean by rinsing it after brushing and storing it in an upright position, out in the open. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed or broken. Children’s toothbrushes typically need to be replaced more often.
  • Finally, eating a healthy diet and limiting snacks also helps keep your mouth healthy. Remember, keeping your mouth healthy shouldn’t be an afterthought. A healthy mouth leads to better overall health.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number D06RH27789 Coast to Cascades Healthy Smiles for All Program, total award amount of $883,385 and 0% financed with nongovernmental funds. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.