The month of April celebrates National Oral Health. People seldom think of their mouth when they consider their overall health; however, the mouth can cause health problems if a person has poor dental hygiene, and it can be an indicator that a person has poor health. For instance, cavities and gum disease can be a factor in causing respiratory diseases and diabetes. There is also an indication that poor oral health is linked to heart disease and may cause women to deliver pre-term.
Good oral hygiene goes beyond keeping pearly whites. Poor dental hygiene can affect how a person chews or person’s bite. Inflammation in the gums is known as gum disease. This affects the bone that forms around and support teeth. This can affect the placement of teeth and a person’s bite. Cavities and gum disease can cause teeth to become out of alignment or prevent other teeth from making proper contact when a person bites down. This can cause an asymmetrical face, which affects a person’s aesthetic appearance.
Besides poor oral health, smoking is a huge risk factor in creating dental disease. Tobacco is harmful to the gums and other mouth tissue. In addition, smoking can cause oral cancer. Several people have oral cancer; however, those with oral cancer may not visit the dentist periodically and not be informed of their cancer until it’s too late. Approximately 3,200 people are diagnosed with oral cancer in Canada while approximately 1,050 of those people die from it. Early detection of oral cancer increases survival rate. By making regular trips to the dentist, oral cancer and other health problems can be discovered early on in time for treatment.
There are other risks associated with poor oral health. Poor oral health can also affect a person’s sleeping. It affects a person’s quality of life. Those who are not confident in their teeth are less likely to smile and be social with others. It can make a person feel self-conscious about eating or laughing in front of others. This aspect spills over into the rest of a person’s life. It can affect how often a person goes out and their self-esteem.
Anything that enters the mouth affects the rest of the body. Any harmful substance that enters the mouth, such as bacteria, can enter the bloodstream through unhealthy gums. In addition, bacteria in the mouth can enter the respiratory system and cause infection. It’s uncommon knowledge that plaque and tartar are actually the result of bacteria in the mouth. These substances need to be regularly removed from the mouth for optimal oral hygiene.
To prevent poor oral hygiene, regularly brush teeth, floss, use mouthwash, avoid excessive amounts of sugar, and drink an adequate amount of water. It is also wise to regularly visit a dentist. A dentist is trained to spot potential health issues by viewing certain indications in the mouth that would otherwise be missed by the untrained eye.
Seek out a dentist through referral. Dentists should be careful to pay attention to their patients’ teeth and take time to respond to questions or concerns. It is wise to take children to a pediatric dentist early on to get them into the habit of seeing a dentist.
Canadian Dental Association. April is National Oral Health Month. Retrieved from http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/about/media_room/health_month/
Colgate-Palmolive Canada Inc. (2015). Finding a Dentist. Retrieved from http://www.colgate.ca/app/CP/CA/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-and-Dental-Procedures/The-Dental-Visit/article/Finding-a-Dentist.cvsp
Health Canada. (2009, November 16). The Effects of Oral Health on Overall Health. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/life-vie/dent-eng.php