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Small steps like brushing and flossing regularly play a big role in your overall health. 

Dental health is important, and establishing healthy habits shouldn’t be limited to regular visits to the dentist. In fact, there are many things that can be done right from home to benefit kids and adults.

After all, maintaining healthy teeth and smiles to last a lifetime starts with small habits. 

 

At-Home Dental Care and Disease Prevention

Did you know that taking care of your teeth and gums protects against chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease? In fact, data suggests that what we do everyday can have more of an impact on our health than visiting our health care provider. 

Oral Health and Diabetes

Simple at-home dental care—like brushing and flossing regularly—helps prevent gum disease, which has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes. These behaviors remove plaque and prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria in the mouth. In addition to brushing and flossing, eating a healthy diet and limiting sugary drinks also reduces inflammation and stabilizes blood sugar levels—all good things when diabetes is concerned.

Oral Health and Cancer

Research has shown that poor oral health may also be associated with an increased risk of developing certain cancers, like oral, throat, and esophageal cancer. Taking care of your teeth and gums every day removes plaque and harmful bacteria that contribute to inflammation and cancerous conditions. Adopting a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, along with limiting sugary and processed foods, also supports a strong immune system, which can help stave off cancer. 

Oral Health and Heart Disease

There is also a known connection between healthy teeth and gums and the prevention of heart disease. Studies have shown that poor dental health can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Regular, at-home dental care helps remove plaque and harmful bacteria that are linked to inflammation and the formation of plaque buildup in the arteries—which can lead to heart disease. Diet matters too! A heart-healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, and limits the intake of sugary and fatty foods. Combining a healthy diet with daily brushing and flossing is a key step in protecting your heart against disease. 
 

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Tips for Families to Keep Smiles Bright at Home

Keep up on the the skills needed to keep your teeth healthy now and for many years to come.

  • Protect your teeth from cavities. Always brush with fluoride toothpaste.

  • Children under 3 should only use a tiny amount of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. Those under 8 need a pea-sized amount.

  • Remember to brush twice a day to keep the germs away! In addition, floss once per day.

  • Don’t brush off the dentist! Once babies get their first tooth, it’s time to schedule a dental visit. From there, schedule a dental visit based on your risk for developing oral disease. 

  • Seeing a dentist at least every year is important for adults, too, even if you have dentures or no natural teeth.

  • Going to the dentist is safe and recommended for everyone. If you haven’t gone in for a while, make your appointment soon.

Find a Vermont Dentist

 

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Medicaid and Dr. Dynasaur Reminders

Have Medicaid, Green Mountain Care or Dr. Dynasaur?

  • Adults are eligible for up to $1,500 a year in dental services. Learn More >>

  • Pregnant people, just like children, have no dollar cap for dental services.  Learn More >>


Helpful & Fun Resources

Find the links to some fun websites, videos, and activities here!

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Help your kids form a regular routine of brushing twice a day and work together toward a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums!

Download the Monthly Brushing Calendar. 

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The whole family can dive into this fun and engaging dental health YouTube channel featuring an 802 Smiles dental hygienist.

Watch Video

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Geena the Giraffe’s Tremendous Tooth Adventure

This 8-minute animated film from Oral-B North America helps kids learn about how to take good care of their teeth.

Other Useful Resources & Links
  • Vermont 2-1-1: A free and confidential 24/7 service to find resources in your community). Dial 2-1-1 from a Vermont phone or visit vermont211.org

  • Oral Health Tips (CDC): Get a refresher on some tips that all adults can use to keep their teeth healthy, straight from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

  • Children’s Oral Health (CDC): This overview from the CDC lists what parents and guardians can do to help babies and kids when it comes to oral health. Tips for pregnant women are also included.

  • Mouth Healthy (ADA): The ADA’s Mouth Healthy program gives parents tips to keep the mouths of their babies and kids strong. The site includes tips on brushing, nutrition, visiting the dentist, and more.

  • Drinks Destroy Teeth: The Unsweetened Truth: This list from the Indiana Dental Association shows how much sugar is in popular sodas, juices, and soft drinks.

  • PBS NewsHour on SDF: This 8-minute video from PBS discusses the benefits of using Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) treatment for tooth decay -- especially in children -- compared to invasive drilling procedures.

About the 802 Smiles Network

The 802 Smiles Network was created to improve oral health for kids across the state of Vermont.

Establishing and maintaining healthy dental habits at a young age can prevent negative health outcomes later in life.

We recognize the need for oral health education and access for young Vermonters, and the 802 Smiles Network works to both expand and connect dental health services in Vermont schools to help students and families begin their oral health journey at no cost. Our network consists of VT schools that offer a variety of free services to their students. By offering free, in-school dental services, schools help to foster long-lasting preventative oral health behaviors that can positively impact health outcomes.

When a school becomes a member of the 802 Smiles Network they can select to provide different levels of services to their students, from dental health education and onsite treatments—to transportation and restorative services, such as fillings. The different tiers are laid out in this infographic.

We welcome and encourage new schools to join our network and the effort to promote dental health in Vermont youth. For more information, visit 802 Smiles Network, email [email protected] or call (802) 863-7330.