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National Smile Month – why oral health matters

  • A blog explaining the three key messages of National Smile Month 2018 and the benefits of maintaining healthy teeth and gums

    By Naomi Todd

National Smile Month takes place from 14 May until 14 June 2018. This campaign promotes good oral health, and highlights three key messages to encourage us all to maintain healthy teeth and gums:

1. Cut down on sugary food and drink;

2. Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a fluoride toothpaste;

3. Visit your dentist regularly, as often as is recommended.

What are the health benefits of good oral health?

1. Look good
Keeping your teeth clean and healthy combats bad breath and the buildup of plaque. Brushing your teeth twice daily, maintaining a low-in-sugar diet and regularly visiting your dentist will help reduce the risk of dental decay and gum disease, both of which can result in tooth loss.

Tooth loss through dental decay and gum disease are almost entirely preventable and there’s no reason why, with a good daily oral health routine, we cannot keep our teeth for life.

Another very common condition that can affect our appearance is tooth staining. Having stained teeth can make us feel self-conscious, and is caused by smoking, or drinking lots of tea, coffee or red wine.

Tooth staining can be prevented by regular cleaning.

2. Feel good
Gum disease can cause bacteria from the mouth to get into the bloodstream. Thereafter it produces a protein which causes the blood to thicken, which means clots are more likely to form, and the heart fails to get the nutrients and oxygen it needs, resulting in increased risk of a heart attack.

Gum disease can also cause inflammation of the blood vessels, blocking the blood supply to the brain, leading to a potential stroke.

In addition, by keeping our teeth and gums healthy we are more likely to reduce our risk of certain cancers, particularly in women, as well as some forms of dementia.

New research, which examined data from 65,000 post-menopausal women between the ages of 54 and 86, found those with a history of gum disease were 14% more likely to develop cancer. Of these, one in three developed breast cancer while there was also a highly-increased risk of lung cancer, oesophageal, gall bladder and skin cancers.

Those who have healthy gums are also 70 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who have suffered from gum disease over a long period of time.

A new study from Chung Shan Medical University in Taichung City determined that people who have had periodontitis for more than 10 years are 70% more likely than people without periodontitis to develop Alzheimer’s disease. The study team concluded that:

“Our findings support the notion that infectious diseases associated with low-grade inflammation, such as chronic periodontitis, may play a substantial role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. These findings highlight the need to prevent progression of periodontal disease and promote healthcare services at the national level.”

National Smile Month provides an opportunity to learn more about why a healthy smile is so important, consider your own oral health, and take steps to ensure you are following advice to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Want to know more?

Call 0800 051 8069

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