Category : World Health Day

Let Aura’s healthcare specialists tell you, on the occasion of World Oral Health Day, why you should care about your pearly whites!

Maintaining good oral health is not just about achieving a bright and sparkling smile but is also crucial for our overall well-being. With scientific studies increasingly highlighting the critical link between oral health and an individual’s general health, oral hygiene has gained even more prominence in recent times. ‘A happy mouth is a happy body’ is the campaign for the year 2024 by the FDI World Dental Federation.

Oral health is the condition of the mouth and other associated structures, like teeth and lips, enabling a person to perform functions like breathing, eating, and speaking effectively. It also includes psychosocial aspects like self-confidence, general well-being, and the capacity to interact with people and carry out tasks without experiencing pain, discomfort, or shame.

Oral Disease Burden :

According to the WHO Global Oral Health Status Report (2022), Oral diseases have been humanity’s most common ailments since 1990. Global estimates of oral disease cases exceed those of the five primary Non-Communicable Diseases (mental disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic respiratory illnesses, and malignancies) by around 1 billion.

Bad Oral Health- What and Why?

 Poor oral hygiene can lead to many problems, from dental cavities to cancer. Most people will experience at least one dental problem in their lifetime. Watch out for the warning signs of oral health problems, which must be addressed immediately.

  • Toothache
  • Swelling or bleeding gums
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Bad smell from mouth
  • Oral ulcers
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Broken teeth
  • Swelling of face and neck

Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) : Dental caries start with the loss of tooth enamel, followed by dentine, and finally, permanent damage to the whole tooth. It is due to the collection of plaque on the tooth, which converts the sugar in food and drinks to acids that slowly erode the layers of the tooth. High sugar intake, lack of fluoride, and failure to remove plaque due to improper brushing are the main reasons for tooth decay.

Edentulism (total loss of tooth) : Late stages of dental caries and gum disease may lead to complete tooth loss. It affects almost 7% of adults (above 20 years) globally and nearly 23% above 60. Losing teeth has functional, psychological, and social implications.

Oro dental trauma :  Improper alignment of teeth or environmental factors like accidents can cause injury to the oral cavity and teeth. Data shows that around 1 billion people worldwide are affected by Oro dental trauma.

Oral cancer : Oral cancer is the 13th most common cancer globally, with more cases in men and older adults. It includes cancer of the gums, tongue, lips, floor of the mouth and cheeks. Excessive use of tobacco, alcohol, betel nuts, and HPV virus infection are the main causes of oral cancer.

Noma :  Noma is a severe gangrenous disease of the mouth found in children aged 2 to 6 years living in poor socioeconomic conditions. It starts with a small lesion in the mouth, and if not treated at early stages, it progresses to involve the gums and face, causing facial disfigurement. This disease is commonly found in African countries.

Relationship between oral health and overall health :  

Unchecked dental caries or tooth loss can impact organs such as the kidneys and heart. Oral bacteria can lodge in remote locations through the bloodstream and move the heart. If people with diabetes do not maintain good dental hygiene, they may develop diabetic complications affecting their kidneys, eyes, and nerves early.

It is surprising to note that oral diseases and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes mellitus, chronic respiratory disorders, and mental and neurological diseases share common risk factors, i.e. poor hygiene, alcohol and tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity2.

How do you keep your teeth healthy?

Good oral hygiene is the key to healthy teeth.

1. Brush and floss regularly.

2. Brush your teeth at least twice a day.

3. It is better to brush your teeth after every meal and before going to bed.

Adequate fluoride exposure.
1. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, as it helps to protect your teeth.

2. Drink fluoridated water.

Keep track of your health.
1. Visit a dentist regularly (every six months) to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy.

2. Get scaling done to remove the plaque deposition in your teeth.

3. Seek appropriate medical attention if you have conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disorders, or gastroesophageal reflux disease that may affect your oral health.

Watch what you eat.
1. Eat a balanced diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, pulses, green leafy vegetables, and nuts.

2. Eating raw fruits and vegetables helps saliva production (minerals in saliva protect the teeth).

3. Probiotic intake has been found beneficial for dental health. Make an effort to include yoghurt, lassi, and kefir in your diet.

4. Avoid sugary snacks (cookies, gummies, chocolates) and beverages (energy drinks, sweetened juices). Studies have shown that frequent sugar consumption is one of the risk factors for developing early childhood caries in children.

5. Have soft drinks in moderation. Instead, drink water. It is free from calories, sugar, and acids. Studies have shown that soft drinks are the major source of dietary acids responsible for tooth decay.

6. Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Smoking and alcohol are not only harmful to general health but can have a severe impact on your oral health. Tobacco use can cause gum disease, tooth discolouration, and even oral cancer. Alcohol can also increase the risk of oral cancer and dry mouth, which can lead to tooth decay and other oral health issues.

7. Avoid sticky foods like lollipops and breath mints. These foods slowly release sugar, giving the harmful bacteria in the mouth plenty of time to digest sugar and produce acids, causing tooth decay.

8. Avoid processed starchy foods like potato chips, crackers, and puffs. They have also been associated with tooth decay and dental caries, as shown in studies.

9. Kids must not be allowed to sleep with bottled juices, sweet drinks, or formula milk.

Warning: Avoid foods with hidden sugars

Sauces: ketchup, pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, pizza sauce.
Packed juices, energy drinks, soda drinks, sports drinks.
Canned fruits, premade soup, premade smoothies
Energy bars: granola bars, cereal bars, protein bars
Cookies, cakes, muffins
Processed breakfast cereals: muesli, cornflakes
Flavoured yoghurt, flavoured milk, flavoured coffee, pre-prepared iced tea

What is baby bottle tooth decay?

Tooth decay in infants and young children who use bottles or sippers for long hours. It is because of sugar in milk, juices, or sweetened drinks.

Signs: Dark brown spots on teeth, especially upper front teeth. Pain is felt in later stages.

How to prevent :

  1. Don’t give bottled juice or milk while sleeping
  2. If needed, fill the bottle with water.
  3. Don’t let the child use a bottle or sipper for a prolonged period.
  4. Don’t put juices and sweet drinks in the feeding bottle.
  5. Switch to a cup for drinking purposes by one year of age.
  6. Avoid using a pacifier.
  7. Always wipe the gums after they finish drinking.
  8. Start brushing their teeth as soon as they start appearing.

In conclusion, oral hygiene is vital in maintaining oral and overall health. By investing time in daily oral care practices, including brushing, flossing and using mouthwash, individuals can prevent dental issues and bad breath and lower the risk of serious health conditions. Regular visits to the dentist for professional cleanings and check-ups further bolster oral health. Remember, a smile is not just a reflection of happiness but also good oral hygiene practices.

References :

1. Oral health. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/oral-health (accessed 2024-02-07).

2. Global oral health status report: towards universal health coverage for oral health by 2030. https://www.who.int/publications-detail-redirect/9789240061484 (accessed 2024-02-07).

3. Seow, W. K. Early Childhood Caries. Pediatr. Clin. North Am. 2018, 65 (5), 941–954. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcl.2018.05.004.

4. Lin, P.-Y.; Lee, Y.-C.; Hsu, L.-Y.; Chang, H.-J.; Chi, L.-Y. Association between Sugary Drinks Consumption and Dental Caries Incidence among Taiwanese Schoolchildren with Mixed Dentition. Community Dent. Oral Epidemiol. 2022, 50 (5), 384–390. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdoe.12683.

2 Comments

  1. Umm Ahmed

    Ma shaa Allah….Very beneficial article….Aura is raising such a good writers specially from among women….Barakallahu lakun….

    Reply
  2. Habiba

    Ma sha Allah

    Very informative

    Reply

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