A healthy mouth can take you places

Written by: Dr. Marcelle Cupido, Dentist

On Oral health day the world has to unite to help reduce the burden of oral diseases by empowering people with knowledge, tools and confidence to secure good oral health. A healthy mouth can be a great asset.

Everyone deserves to laugh, eat and communicate without pain and worry. It is of utmost importance to look after your oral health for your own happiness and wellbeing. Oral health affects nearly 3,5 billion people globally. We need to value our smiles and care about our teeth. All of us should be able to enjoy our smiles. A healthy smile can give you the confidence to talk to anyone without holding back. Good oral health and smiles can improve careers, our relationships and we can have positive life experiences. Good oral health can have so many wonderful life-changing benefits. A Beautiful Smile Promotes Positive Self-Image. Studies also link beautiful smiles to positive traits and characteristics such as kindness, friendliness, and intelligence.

Oral health encompasses a range of diseases and conditions that include dental caries, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth loss, oral cancer, oro-dental trauma, noma and birth defects such as cleft lip and palate.  A sensitive or painful tooth needs help and often has to be treated. Just like any other major diseases, prevention, early detection and treatment of oral diseases are important to stop any negative effects on the rest of the body.

Looking after your oral health has a direct relationship to your overall health. As the quotation says “Your mouth is the gateway to your body”.

Oral health is one of the leading health indicators. Oral health is closely related with general health and people’s quality of life, through affecting their oral functions and social interactions. Oral health and general health have a two-way relationship. For example, dental caries may cause impaired chewing, decreased appetite, sleep problems, and poor school and work performance. A growing body of research has identified a connection between oral health and chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Diabetes.

Oral health is being able to smile, speak, chew, swallow, touch and express feelings and emotions without pain, discomfort and disease. It gives you the confidence to live, work and play. Good oral health helps you live a longer healthier life where as poor oral health can have effects on how we think, feel and act. Poor oral health causes millions of people to suffer from devastating pain and increases the out-of-pocket financial burden for society. Problems which may be caused or made worse by poor oral health include:

  • Heart disease.
  • Strokes.
  • Diabetes.
  • Giving birth to a premature or low-birth-weight baby.
  • Respiratory (lung) disease.

 Maintaining a healthy mouth could have a positive impact on the management of diabetes. Dental infections have been associated with a higher risk of pneumonia.  Too reduce the risk of oral cancer avoid the usage of tobacco and limit alcohol intake. Gum disease has been associated with a higher risk of preterm and low- birth weight babies. People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery (heart) disease as people without gum disease.

Tooth decay also known as dental caries is the most common health condition in the world, caused by unhealthy diets high in sugar as well as exposure to other risk factors. Most chronic dental diseases could be prevented by adopting effective preventive behaviours.

Tips to maintain good oral health:

  • Brush twice daily with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Soft bristled toothbrushes are important to protect our gums from damage whilst brushing. Fluoride toothpaste of at least 1445ppm (parts per million) is an essential preventative measure for dental decay.
  • Floss between all teeth daily. Flossing enables us to remove plaque and debris from between teeth where our toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Make water your choice of drink and reduce your sugary drink intake. Sugary drinks are one of the leading causes of dental decay across the globe. They also contribute very little nutritional value to the average diet, making them an unnecessary part of our diet. Water on the other hand is very accessible, mostly free and is vital for our everyday hydration. Water has the perfect pH level for our mouth making it the drink of choice for dental (and overall) health.
  • Choose tooth safe foods that are low in sugar – check nutrition information on product packaging. Limiting the amount of sugar we are consuming is better for our oral health. We can see how much sugar is in any given product by looking at the nutrition information panel on the back of the packaging.
  • Attend regular dental check-ups [at least once a year]. Scheduling an annual check-up is super important for making sure we are maintaining our oral health as best as we can.

By following these tips, we can feel confident that we are making the best choices and taking the best action for good oral health for life. Now that’s something to be proud of! Be proud of your mouth!

Did you know???

  • People who smoke are 2-7 times more likely to develop periodontal( gum) disease than non-smokers
  • Not brushing twice per day increases your risk of developing tooth decay by 33%
  • People who drink 3 or more cans of fuzzy drinks daily, have  62% more tooth decay, fillings, and tooth loss than people that don’t drink them
  • Preplacing a toothbrush after illnesses helps prevent the potential for re-infection
  • Coconuts are a natural anti-bacterial food and can help reduce the risk of developing gum disease and cavities

Be mouth aware and check for any changes in the mouth by:

  • Do both sides look the same? Look for any lumps or swellings that are only on one side of the face
  • Mouth: run your finger on the roof of the mouth (palate) to feel for any lumps. Repeat on the floor of the mouth.
  • Lips: pull down the lower lip and look for any sores or change in colour. Use your thumb and index finger to feel the lip for lumps or changes in texture
  • Tongue: Look for any changes in colour or texture of the surface. Check the sides for any swellings or changes in colour or ulcers. Examine the under surface

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