It’s the 20th of March again, and we would like to wish all our patients a great World Oral Health Day! This week is a time to reflect on our oral care habits, and to renew our oral health goals.

For 2018, this year’s theme is about the health link between our mouth and bodies. The World Dental Federation wants everybody to understand how your oral health affects your general health, and vice-versa. It is important to safeguard and maintain our oral and general health at all times – because a healthy mouth and body go hand in hand.

The mouth and body link

While oral health problems and disease – including tooth decay, cavities and gum disease – are usually prevented and managed through good oral care and hygiene, they can also be negatively affected by other general health conditions.
If these other general health conditions are not treated and managed properly than oral health complications may result. By the same token, if you have poor oral health, it may impact on the health of the rest of your body.
General health conditions that have been linked to oral health include respiratory diseases, nutritional deficiencies, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

Shared risk factors

Oral health diseases also share common risk factors with other general health conditions and diseases. Some of these risk factors are biological and genetic and cannot be controlled. However, there are risk factors that are created by our behaviour and lifestyle choices. They include an unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol use, smoking, no exercise and poor oral care.

Take control

You can take control by making the correct choices in order to protect your mouth and body by:

  • having a healthier diet with loads of fruit and vegetables, and avoiding foods high in refined sugar and carbohydrates
  • limiting consumption of alcohol
  • practicing good oral care and hygiene, incl. brushing twice daily
  • not smoking
  • wearing a preventative mouthguard when playing contact sports
  • visiting your dentist (and doctor) for a check-up once or twice a year

Practicing good oral care and minimising your risk are important ways to avoid oral disease and associated general health conditions. Just as your eyes are a window to your soul, your mouth is a mirror to your general health and well-being. Happy World Oral Health Day!