Today is the day to “Celebrate Healthy Smiles” and we want to help make sure your oral health is in top form. March 20th is World Oral Health Day (WOHD) – an international day to celebrate the benefits of a healthy mouth and to promote worldwide awareness of issues around oral health and the importance of looking after your oral hygiene – whatever your age.
The importance of having good oral health cannot be overestimated – 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime but many of them can be avoided. You might not realize it, but your oral health can offer clues about your overall health, while problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body.
So what’s the connection between oral health and overall health? Like many areas of the body, your mouth is filled with bacteria — most of which are harmless. Normally your body’s natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep these bacteria under control. However, without correct oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, including tooth decay and gum disease. Taking certain medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers and diuretics, can also have an impact on your oral health by reducing the flow of saliva, which is an important agent the body uses to wash away food and neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth.
Recent research now suggests that the health of your mouth mirrors the condition of your body as a whole. For example, when your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is good, too. On the other hand, if you have poor oral health, you may have other underlying health problems. For example, Certain diseases, such as diabetes, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe. Other research shows that more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases (diseases involving many organs or the whole body) have oral manifestations, including swollen gums, mouth ulcers, dry mouth and excessive gum problems. These diseases include leukemia, oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease.
Since most people have regular oral examinations, your dentist may be the first health care provider to diagnose a health problem in its early stages. Good oral health may also actually prevent certain diseases from occurring. It is vital that you see a dentist regularly as they will help you to keep your mouth in top condition. Frequent visits will also allow them to watch for developments that may point to other health problems. A dental exam can detect poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems and improper jaw alignment. It’s a good idea to give your dentist a complete medical history and inform them of any recent health developments, even if they seem unrelated to your oral health.
While a dentist can give proper guidance, you need to keep up the good work at home. Here are the best practice routines to keep your mouth healthy:
- Brush for two to three minutes, at least twice a day, with fluoridated toothpaste
- Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach
- Eat a healthy diet to provide the nutrients necessary to prevent gum disease
- Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, which may lead to gum disease and oral cancer
Look after your oral health – and smile!!