World Oral Health Day 2021: Protect Your Teeth For a Longer Life
Saturday 20th March is World Oral Health Day and the theme for 2021 is “Be Proud Of Your Mouth”. According to the World Oral Health Day website, the idea behind this year’s campaign is to “inspire change by focusing on the importance of oral health for overall health, because good oral health can help you live a longer, healthier life”.
In line with this year’s theme, we’re taking a look at how good dental health can help you live longer - which we think is a pretty big incentive to keep up with your oral hygiene practices!
The link between oral health and mortality
While you may associate taking care of your teeth with health benefits such as a lower risk of tooth decay and cavities - as well as the advantages of fresher breath and whiter teeth - good oral health can also have a significant impact on our overall health.
In fact, a study published in the Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology Journal revealed that the number of teeth we have is closely related to our life expectancy. The results found that people with 20 teeth or more at the age of 70 had a significantly higher chance of living longer than those who had less than 20 teeth.
Why does oral health impact our overall health?
The correlation between dental health and overall physical health has long been acknowledged by medical experts. This stands to reason - as the mouth is the gateway to the rest of our body, it plays a significant role in our general health.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, the Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, explains that "oral health indicators such as gum disease have regularly been linked to a wide range of general health problems such as heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, dementia and problems during pregnancy.”
“Many oral health diseases (such as gum disease) are entirely preventable and are caused by poor oral hygiene. By taking good care of our teeth, not only will our mouth benefit but the positive changes will be felt by the entire body."
How poor oral health can increase the risk of other health conditions
According to medical body the Mayo Clinic, poor oral health can be linked to a number of diseases and conditions in other parts of the body, including:
- Endocarditis: An infection of the inner lining of your heart chamber or valves, endocarditis often occurs when bacteria from another part of your body, such as the mouth, enters the bloodstream and attaches to certain areas of the heart.
- Cardiovascular disease: Some research suggests that heart disease, blocked arteries and stroke may be linked to inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria.
- Pregnancy and birth complications: Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Pneumonia: Certain oral bacteria can sometimes enter your lungs, which can lead to the development of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
Maintaining good oral health by brushing twice a day, flossing at least once per day, and visiting your dentist regularly, can have a significant impact on your overall health and even your lifespan - and in the words of World Oral Health Day, “that is something worth taking action for”.
Need to see your local National Dental Care Group dentist? Book an appointment online today and prioritise your oral health.