World Oral Health Day — why is good dental hygiene so important?

Unite for mouth health. That’s this year’s motto for World Oral Health Day on the 20th of March. It’s a call to action for young and old alike to make good dental hygiene a priority. This is now more important than it ever has been, given the current COVID-19 pandemic that has swept across our nation. So, we’re taking it upon ourselves to guide you through exactly what good oral health looks like.

Healthy teeth and gums — what the experts say

Good dental hygiene is about maintaining healthy teeth and gums. The World Health Organization (WHO) refers to good oral health as the absence of the following conditions:

  • tooth loss
  • tooth decay
  • gum disease
  • oral sores and infections
  • chronic mouth and facial pain
  • oral and throat cancers
  • conditions that affect your ability to bite, chew, smile or speak.

Neglecting your dental hygiene can result in all of the above, but it can go even deeper than that.

Poor oral hygiene and your general health

Dental diseases can have a wider impact on your general health. Gum disease is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and in pregnant women, preterm birth.

In the case of diabetes, gum disease is suggested to decrease the body’s ability to respond to insulin, making it even harder to control blood sugar levels.

As for heart disease, the bacteria that causes gum disease is suggested to cause inflammation throughout the body, including in your arteries. This may increase the formation of plaques that narrow them, making a heart attack or stroke more likely.

For pregnant women, infections in the mouth can cause the release of substances that trigger premature labour, resulting in preterm birth.

So what can you do to help keep your mouth — and consequently, your body — in good shape?

Oral hygiene solutions

Keeping up with regular dental check-ups and hygienist appointments is essential, but there are other things we recommend you can do everyday to avoid poor oral hygiene.

Here are our top 4 oral hygiene solutions:

1) Properly brush your teeth every morning and night for 2 minutes

Using either a manual or electric toothbrush, brush all the exposed surfaces of your teeth. Use fluoride toothpaste as fluoride protects the hard outer coating of your teeth against decay. Do not rinse your mouth out with water after brushing as this will remove the fluoride coating. Instead, spit out whatever toothpaste is left.

2) Floss every day

Depending on the size of the spaces between your teeth, use dental floss, dental tape or interdental brushes. Make sure you floss before you brush your teeth to remove any debris or plaque.

3) Quit smoking and cut back on alcohol

Smoking and alcohol reduce the amount of saliva you produce. Saliva is anti-bacterial and so reduces your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. What’s more, smoking and alcohol increase your chances of developing oral or throat cancers.

4) Reduce sugar in your diet

Sugary drinks coat your teeth in sugar and encourage bacteria to thrive, so limit yourself to just one glass a day. Similarly, try to reduce the amount of sugar in your food. Adults should have no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day and children no more than 3 teaspoons.

If you’re worried that you may have a dental health problem, please do get in touch with our friendly and experienced team and book your free consultation, via video link or in practice with us – your trusted Marlow dentists.

Page last updated and checked by Dr Sam Jethwa: September 8, 2020

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