The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Sarah Jane Rodriguez

November 7, 2022

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COVID-19 restrictions are starting to ease up and we can finally get back to our normal routines, and that means getting back to the dentist for your checkups. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced many us to put our health, and especially our oral health, on the back burner but now is the time to put your teeth and your beautiful smile back in the spotlight.

Your smile isn’t the only thing at risk when you don’t practice good oral hygiene. Without proper care and cleaning, you’re at risk of tooth decay and gum disease, which are both linked to many other diseases and conditions within your body. Your oral health offers clues about your overall health, so it’s important to practice good oral hygiene and see your dentist for cleanings and checkups twice a year.

What’s the connection between oral health and overall health?

Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria — mostly harmless. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease.

Normally the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Also, certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that multiply and lead to disease.

Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease, which is called periodontitis, might play a role in some other diseases. And certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.

How can I protect my oral health?

To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene daily.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Use a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily.
  • Use mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing.
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit sugary food and drinks.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if bristles are splayed or worn.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Avoid tobacco use.

Also, contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises. Taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

How can the APWU Health Plan help?

If you’re enrolled in the Consumer Driven Option Plan you can use up to $400 for Self Only and $800 for Self Plus One or Self and Family for eligible dental expenses as long as funds are available in your Personal Care Account (PCA). You will need to pay the dentist and request reimbursement from us.

If you’re enrolled in the High Option Plan the plan will cover 70 percent for routine dental care, office visits, exams, cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatment, fillings and simple extractions.

What if I need more dental coverage?

If you feel that you need more extensive dental coverage, you can enroll in the APWU Health Plan Dental Plan and pay a separate premium. You can enroll in this option at any time of the year, there is no need to wait for Open Season. Dependents are also covered and children on your plan are covered up to age 26.

All postal workers are eligible to enroll in this plan as long as you’re an APWU member before you enroll.

This is the time to focus on your oral health. Put your smile back in the spotlight. Enroll now! Go to: to download the application form and get a head start on your oral health.


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