“World Oral Health Day 2015, Smile for Life!”
Oral health is an issue not only for the United States, but around the world. Having a healthy mouth is important because it affects your overall health and ultimately your happiness. Not only do dentists play a very important role in the prevention of poor oral health, but communities, schools, families, dental associations and governments also play an important role. We all need to work together to help educate and raise awareness of good oral hygiene and habits that contribute to good oral health.
March 20th is an international day to celebrate and promote awareness of the importance of oral hygiene to everyone young and old. This years theme “Smile for Life” has multiple meanings: ‘lifelong smile’, ‘celebrating life’ and ‘having fun’. People love to smile when they live a happy, healthy life, but in order to that life you must first start with good oral health.
90% of the worlds population will suffer from oral disease in their lifetime. It mainly affects adults, but as many as 90% of school children also face this issue. With 7 billion people in this world only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush. Disadvantaged and poor populations are hit the hardest with poor oral health with the leading problems of dental caries, periodontal diseases and oral cancer.
Simple, inexpensive measures can be taken to help prevent these conditions. The most basic is brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing. Research states some of the poorest populations of developing countries have the least access to affordable toothpaste. With government and community efforts that issue needs to change. Water fluoridation can also help with dental decay and is an overall health savings. Limiting the consumption of sugary foods and drinks and cutting tobacco and alcohol use can also significantly decrease the chance of oral disease. Research has shows that sugars are the main cause of tooth decay. When eating or drinking something sugary, bacteria in the plaque feeds on the sugar releasing acid that attacks teeth for around an hour. Frequent consumption of sugar prolong the acid attacks, weakening the protective outer layer of the teeth. Oral health can also improve by rinsing with fluoride based mouthwashes and chewing sugar free gum after meals. Of course the best way to prevent oral disease is to have regular checkups with your dentist.
What are some simple things you can do to educate the community:
- bring your child with you when having your teeth cleaned
- floss your child’s teeth as soon as they have two teeth touching
- do not put your child to sleep with a bottle of juice or formula
- brush your child’s teeth twice a day as soon as they have teeth
- limit sugary food and drinks in your household and workplace
- offer others sugar free gum after meals and explain why
- cut tobacco and alcohol out of your diet and when others ask why educate them
- make these activities fun and distill good oral hygiene while children are young and throughout teenage years
What does DSM do to help educate the community and prevent oral disease:
- Speak in elementary schools
- Donate toothbrushes to the community
- Hold classes educating the public on overall health
- Participate in programs like Dentists Who Care and Donated Dental
- Offer Free Oral Cancer Screening certain times of the year
- When parents bring their children, we try to make the experience as fun as possible for them
- We try to educate the community and fellow colleagues about how to change the atmosphere in the office to dispel fear of the dentist