Good oral hygiene is linked to general well-being. It helps prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, studies link oral health- particularly periodontal (gum) disease- to the increased risk of various chronic conditions; including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
How can I improve my oral health?
Brush for two minutes, twice a day, using a fluoride toothpaste. You may also choose to rinse with a fluoride mouthwash or chew sugar-free gum after meals and snacks. Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles are frayed.
Floss or use an interdental brush every day to remove food, debris and plaque lodged between your teeth. It is advisable to use interdental brushes in addition to brushing as part of your daily oral routine from the age of 12. Flossing is a great alternative for those who do not have large enough spaces in between their teeth.
Cut down on sugar, and drink water between meals. This is key to preventing tooth decay. Sugars occur naturally in foods such as fruit. It is important to keep this in mind when deciding how we consume these foods. For example, when fruit is juiced, sugars are released which causes damage to teeth. This means it is best to limit the consumption of fruit juices and smoothies or consume at mealtimes.
Do not smoke, and be sure to limit alcohol. Research estimates that heavy drinkers and smokers have a 38 times increased risk of developing mouth cancer, compared to those who do not drink or smoke.
Brush baby teeth as soon as they come through (usually around 6 months). Parents or carers should supervise tooth brushing ensuring all exposed teeth are cleaned. It is also important to ensure children get into a good teeth-cleaning routine.
Straighten crooked teeth with braces. Straightening teeth helps facilitate the ease of caring for teeth and gums. It can also improve biting to make eating more comfortable. Orthodontic treatment is available through GHA for young people at no cost, following referrals via the dentistry team.
Have regular check-ups and don’t delay treatments. Most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be resolved quickly in their early stages. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your outcomes are likely to be.
The on-going pandemic and related restrictions have meant that many of us push dental check-ups to the back of our priority lists. However, maintaining good oral hygiene and regular check-ups are key to our general well-being. If you are due a dental check-up, this World Oral Health Day is a great reason to book your appointment!