This month sees the start of National Smile Month. Organised and run by the Oral Health Foundation, it’s designed to spread the dental health word and improve the nation’s oral health. It unites dental and health professionals, schools, pharmacies, community groups, colleges and workplaces in a frenzy of healthy dental doings.
National Smile Month highlights three key messages, all of which go a long way in helping us develop and maintain a healthy mouth. They are:
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Cut down on how much sugary food and drink you have, and how often you have them.
- Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
Oral health can also have an impact on your general well-being as gum disease has been linked to a number of serious conditions including diabetes, strokes, lung disease and heart disease.
- Heart Disease – bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream and contribute to the production of a protein which can cause platelets to stick together in the blood vessels of the heart. This increases the chance of blood clots which can go on to cause heart attacks.
- Strokes – the protein caused by bacteria in the mouth can inflame blood vessels which can block the blood supply to the brain.
- Diabetes – people with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease, probably because they are more prone to infections in general. Also people are more at risk from diabetes if they have gum disease.
- Premature or low birth weight babies – pregnant ladies with gum disease are over three times more likely to have a premature baby with a low birth weight.
- Respiratory Disease – as chest infections are caused by inhaling droplets from the mouth and throat, people with gum disease may have more bacteria in those areas and so be more susceptible to infection.
As well as regularly brushing and visiting the dentist, here a few more top tips:
- Keep teeth clean in-between with floss, tape, sticks or special brushes
- Quit smoking – it contributes to staining, gum disease and mouth cancer
- Don’t forget to make friends with your helpful hygienist too
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating or drinking to minimise acid action
- Try to wait for around an hour after eating or drinking before you brush as tooth enamel will have softened slightly and could be susceptible to erosion.
- Round off a meal with a cube of cheese – it’s a yummy way to reduce acid attacks