March 20th is World Oral Health Day
March 20th is World Oral Health Day! Learn what it is and why it’s so important.
In 2021, FDI World Dental Federation launched a three-year campaign called “Be Proud of Your Mouth.” The goal of the campaign was, and remains, to empower people to take optimal care of their oral health, and help them understand why oral health is critical for overall health across the lifespan.
Why is oral health important?
The importance of heart, brain, and kidney health are pretty well-known by now, but those aren’t the only parts of your body that require conscious and continuous care. Many whole-body diseases can begin in the mouth, including:
- Heart disease and endocarditis. Scientists cite mounting evidence that the bacteria that causes gum disease can travel through body via the bloodstream, causing inflammation and infection in the heart’s valves, lining, and blood vessels.
- Poor pregnancy and birth outcomes. Periodontitis has been linked to complications such as premature birth and low birth weight.
- Respiratory diseases. Bacteria and other microbes from the mouth (tooth plaque, saliva, etc.), inhaled into the lower respiratory tract, are a main source of lung diseases like COPD and pneumonia.
Some medical conditions can also negatively impact your oral health.
- Diabetes can increase your risk for gum disease, and people with gum disease often struggle to control their blood sugar.
- HIV/AIDS can cause painful lesions in the mouth.
- Osteoporosis (when bone minerals are lost faster than they can be generated) can cause your bones to become weak and brittle, leading to easy fracture and breakage. Loss or weakening of the jaw bone can cause your teeth to loosen, move, and fall out.
If you have underlying health issues, extra care should be paid to improving and maintaining your oral health and hygiene, to avoid further complications.
How can I best care for and protect my oral health?
Healthy lifestyle habits and daily care can help protect every area of your mouth and, in turn, your body. Here are some tips.
- Floss between all your teeth at least once a day, but do it properly so as not to irritate, inflame, and damage your gums.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes, using a soft-bristled brush. Floss before brushing; if there is food caught between your teeth, the toothpaste can’t clean there. You can use mouthwash after brushing.
- Eat a tooth-friendly diet of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, dairy, and green tea. Limit your intake of sugary foods and beverages, as sugar feeds the harmful bacteria in your mouth.
- Use a new toothbrush about every three months. As your current toothbrush gets worn down, it becomes less effective.
- Schedule – and keep – regular dental cleanings and checkups (every six months to a year is optimal).
- Avoid chewing tobacco and smoking.
See your dentist as soon as you notice pain, redness, bleeding, or other problems with any aspect of your mouth. As with any health issue, early intervention is key.
Guest post By Margalo Eden The views expressed by the author may not reflect the views of Age Safe America, LLC. The content here should not be taken as medical, legal or financial advice. The content here is for informational purposes only, and because each person is so unique, please consult your own healthcare, legal or financial professional with any questions.