Filed under: Teeth
Poor oral health adversely affects readiness and could cost you your career, but it’s something you can prevent. Despite advances in dental care and hygiene, deployed service members are still at risk for trench mouth—technically referred to as “necrotizing periodontal disease,” or NPD—a condition that can lead to painful ulcers, spontaneous gum bleeding, and a foul taste in the mouth. A variety of factors can contribute to poor oral health, so we offer a few solutions. And remember to visit your dentist regularly when you can.
- Poor hygiene
- When deployed, you may have little time for oral hygiene, making you fall out of your normal routine of brushing and flossing.
- Solution: Pack a few travel-size tubes of toothpaste, dental floss, and a travel toothbrush in your kit, and establish a routine as quickly as possible.
- Tobacco use
- Using tobacco products can lead to gum disease by reducing blood flow to your gums, which can lead to tooth loss and mouth infections.
- Solution: It’s never too late to quit. Check out these great tips to become tobacco-free.
- Poor nutrition
- Eating right can be challenging in the field. But not eating enough food or the right foods can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies that reduce your ability to fight oral infections.
- Solution: Although MREs can’t replicate the tastes of a home cooked meal, they’re nutritionally balanced to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Eat a variety of MREs and eat as many of the components as you can to make sure you get all the nutrients they provide
- Too much stress can adversely affect many aspects of performance and overall health, including dental health. Stress can cause dry mouth and sore, inflamed gums.
- Solution: Start learning how to reduce stress with the ideas in this article from HPRC.
Good oral health means more than just brushing your teeth. Flossing and brushing your teeth at the gumline, contact areas, tongue, and any trouble areas your dentist or hygienist has pointed out—plus brushing after sugary snacks or beverages—are all important to good oral health. According to the Army Public Health Command, poor oral health can negatively impact training, mobilization, and operations. Visit the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Mouth Healthy website for more oral health information, tips, and news for adults and children.