Dr Norman Swan
We all want straight white teeth and a beautiful smile, but cosmetics aside, Dental Health Week is about dental hygiene – that means looking after your whole mouth, not just your teeth.
90% of Australian adults have tooth decay, and just over 20% of children have tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
But poor dental hygiene doesn’t just cause tooth decay; poor mouth hygiene can produce bad bacteria in your mouth. And these oral germs have been linked to serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and even rheumatoid arthritis.
What happens is the bad bacteria inflame the gums – it’s called periodontal disease. And that inflammation can actually affect your whole body and can damage blood vessels, which makes it even more important to maintain your oral health.
Which makes it even more important to maintain your oral health:
- Use a fluoride containing toothpaste and brush your teeth twice a day;
- Use floss or an interdental brush at least once a day;
- Avoid sugar – it’s deadly for your teeth;
- Drink tap water as it contains fluoride which helps prevent tooth decay.
Your saliva acts as a natural mouthwash so it’s important to keep hydrated and chewing sugar free gum can help to do that.
And if you’re a parent, remember your baby catches your oral germs within a day or two of birth. So keeping your mouth clean helps your kids.
Start introducing your child to a tooth brush with a tiny quantity of toothpaste on it as early as their first baby teeth.
It all seems pretty straightforward doesn’t it, but it’s astounding how many Australians aren’t heeding these messages – 65% haven’t been to a dentist in the last two years. 50% only brush their teeth once a day. Nearly 40% never floss. And just over 70% of young people between 14 and 18 are consuming too much sugar.
This week look after your oral health as it will protect your general health and your kids’ health too.
Go to myDr.com.au for more dental tips.