Dental Health Week is coming up! This annual event from the Australian Dental Association (ADA) will take place from 7th -13th August - and this year’s theme is all about the connection between your oral health and your physical health.
In fact, it might surprise you to learn that the health of your mouth can be linked to chronic medical conditions in a range of other areas of the body, including the heart, lungs and brain.
Dental Health Week is a great time to consider what action you can be taking to maintain the health of your teeth and gums, so you can keep your healthy smile for life.
How gum disease can impact your bodily health
There is a particularly strong link between severe gum disease and chronic health conditions.
This is due to both the bacteria from gum disease spreading into the bloodstream, as well as inflammation in the mouth causing inflammation in other parts of the body.
Here’s how oral health conditions such as gum disease can influence other types of health conditions:
Heart disease: If bacteria from severe gum disease spreads through the bloodstream, it can cause a build-up in your arteries and other blood vessels, which could lead to heart conditions.
Diabetes: Gum disease can make controlling diabetes more difficult. In turn, diabetes can make gum disease worse.
Alzheimer's disease: Bacteria from gum disease have been found in brain plaques that have led to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as memory decline.
Adverse pregnancy outcomes: Bacterial changes from gum disease can spread to the placenta, which can potentially result in preterm delivery, pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) or low birth weight.
Lung conditions (including COVID-19): Bad bacteria in the mouth can pass into the lungs through inhalation, which can worsen lung conditions.
Gut diseases: Early evidence suggests that both gum and gut diseases can worsen each other, due to increased inflammation in the body as a whole, as well as bacteria from the mouth spreading to the gut and exacerbating gut issues.
A healthy mouth, a healthy body
As you can see, maintaining your oral health is a key part of keeping your body’s overall health in good condition.
In addition to reducing your chance of developing oral health conditions such as cavities and gum disease, practicing a healthy oral hygiene routine can also help you lower your risk of diseases in other parts of your body.
To keep your oral health in top condition, follow our simple tips for better dental health:
1. Brush teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
We all know that we need to brush our teeth twice a day - but it’s also important to ensure we’re using the right kind of toothpaste and toothbrush, as well as the correct brushing technique.
- Choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride (you can use low-fluoride toothpaste for children)
- Brush teeth for at least two minutes, twice per day
- Use a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles
- Clean close to the gum by angling the toothbrush
- Don’t apply too much pressure, as this can damage your teeth and gums
- Replace your toothbrush every three months
2. Floss every day to clean between your teeth
Flossing is a crucial part of your oral hygiene routine, as it allows you to remove dirt and debris between your teeth.
- Use dental floss, interdental brushes, or a water flosser
- Establish a routine of flossing every day
- You can start flossing children’s teeth once they have two adjacent teeth that are touching
- Talk to your dentist for advice on the best flossing technique for your teeth
3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s low in added sugar
As sugar is the main cause of tooth decay, it’s important to limit your intake of added sugar and opt for food, drinks and snacks that are healthy for your teeth and gums.
- Aim to keep your sugar intake low by making healthy food choices
- Swap sugary drinks (including fruit juice) for water
- Check food and drink labels to see how much sugar they contain (you might be unpleasantly surprised!)
- Opt for teeth-friendly snacks such as cheese, nuts and vegetables
- Keep snacking and grazing to a minimum
4. Visit your dentist regularly
Regular dental check-ups are an important part of maintaining good oral health. At your appointment, your dentist will check for oral health issues such as tooth decay and gum disease, as well as signs of oral cancer.
- Aim to see your dentist every six months for check-ups and preventative care
- Take children to see the dentist as soon as their first tooth appears
- Talk to your dentist about any concerns you might have about your oral health
By following these oral health tips, you’ll not only keep your teeth and gums in the best condition, but you’ll also help to lower your risk of health problems in other parts of your body. And that means you can enjoy a happy, healthy smile for life!
To make an appointment with your local National Dental Care Group dentist, click here to find your nearest practice.