Friday, March 31, 2023

Oral Health: a window to your overall health

Every year on 20th March, World Oral Health Day is commemorated by encouraging people around the world to make a promise to look after their oral health with proper oral hygiene practice. This global observance helps to reduce the burden of oral diseases which affects individuals, health systems and economies everywhere. The theme from 2021 till 2023 has been: “BE PROUD OF YOUR MOUTH”. In other words, value and take care of your oral health, it is precious.
In 2021, under the theme “Be proud of your mouth”, we encouraged action by focusing on the importance of oral health for overall health.
In 2022, under the same theme, we highlighted the fact that a healthy mouth is important for our happiness and well-being.
In 2023 under the theme “Be proud of your mouth” we are focussing on the importance of caring for your mouth at every stage of life. Because no matter what age you are, caring for your mouth and looking after your oral health is important.
Why is Oral health important?
Your oral health is more important than you might realize. The health of your mouth, teeth and gums can affect your general health. Did you know that your oral health offers clues about your overall health — or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Protect yourself by learning more about the connection between your oral health and overall health.
What’s the connection between oral health and overall health?
Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria — mostly harmless. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease.
Normally the body’s natural defences and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Also, certain medications can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that multiply and lead to disease.
Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease (periodontitis) might play a role in some diseases. And certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.
What conditions can be linked to oral health?
Your oral health contributes to various diseases and conditions, including:
• Endocarditis: This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
• Cardiovascular disease: Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke can be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
• Pregnancy and birth complications: Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
• Pneumonia: Certain bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
Certain conditions also affect your oral health, including:
• Diabetes: By reducing the body’s resistance to infection, diabetes puts your gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Regular periodontal care can improve diabetes control.
• HIV/AIDS: Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
• Osteoporosis: This bone-weakening disease is linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Certain drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.
• Alzheimer’s disease: Worsening oral health is seen as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.
Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers and an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth (Sjogren’s syndrome).
How can I protect my oral health?
To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene daily.
• Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Use a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste.
• Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if bristles are splayed or worn.
• Floss daily.
• Use mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing.
• Eat a healthy diet and limit sugary food and drinks.
• Avoid tobacco use.
• Schedule regular dental checkups and contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises.
• Taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.
• No matter what age you are, caring for your mouth and looking after your oral health is very important. Great teeth, a great smile, a great life – altogether an asset.
Healthy living starts with healthier teeth & mouth in general
Dr Meribeni Odyuo, Jt Director, Dept Of Health & Family Welfare,
SPO, NOHP Kohima : Nagaland

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