April doesn’t just bring May flowers, it also reminds us to brush our teeth because it’s Oral Health Month. Why is there a whole month dedicated to dental health? Because good oral health is linked to living longer, better overall wellness and greater confidence. According to the WHO, oral health issues affect nearly 3.5 billion people worldwide. That’s why it’s so important to take care of our oral health!
Good Oral Health Means Better Health Overall
Reduces the Risk of Disease
We don’t usually think of our teeth or gums when we’re talking about our overall wellness, but we should! Good oral health can reduce the risk of many diseases like endocarditis, stroke and heart disease. Studies have found that people with gum disease have ‘two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other serious cardiovascular events.’
Reduces the Risk of Cancer
Another health issue related to oral health is cancer. Research has found that having a gum disease called periodontitis can play a part in the onset of pancreatic cancer. Periodontitis damages the tissue around your teeth and the bacteria that causes it can be dangerous. Another study found that adults who had poor oral health were more likely to get an oral virus that can cause human papillomavirus (HPV) which can also lead to cancer.
Reduces the Risk of Dementia
It’s estimated that around 40 million people are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia worldwide. Research has found that a species of bacteria that can form in the mouth can move to the brain and can destroy nerve cells. This can lead to memory loss and Alzheimer’s.
Stops Bad Breath
Nobody likes bad breath. You can always pop some gum or mints to hide the smell but one of the best ways to avoid it is by practising good oral hygiene! When you skip brushing or flossing after eating, food particles get stuck in your mouth and that food creates odours. Even when you’re not eating, if you don’t brush or floss, a sticky film of bacteria builds up on your teeth (plaque) which can also cause odours. This plaque also irritates your gums and eventually causes cavities.
Gives You Confidence
Your smile is something people notice right away. If you have tooth decay, loss, or discolouration – it can be devastating. Beyond the physical health benefits of keeping a healthy mouth, our dental health is connected with our self-esteem and how we interact with people. By maintaining good oral health, you can give a boost to your confidence and overall well-being.
Tips for Good Oral Health
Get Regular Check-Ups and Cleanings
Visiting your dentist and hygienist for regular cleanings and check-ups is key to good oral health. Most dentists recommend going for these check-ins at least twice a year and an X-ray once a year to keep that smile looking great. A cleaning consists of a physical exam and removing plaque and tartar, giving a gritty toothpaste cleaning, flossing and finally a fluoride treatment. In a dental exam, the dentist will look for damaged teeth, signs of cavities, condition of your gums, signs of teeth grinding and a whole lot more.
Budget for Routine and Surprise Costs
Even for just for a basic cleaning and check-up, a trip to the dentist can be expensive. If you need more extensive work, it can really add up. And unfortunately, dental care is not currently covered under Canada's public health plan. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead so you can afford the dental care you need. If you don't have coverage through work, explore your options for a private dental insurance plan. Having proper coverage allows you to access the regular dental care that contributes to your overall health. Plus, you won't put off unplanned treatments because thy're too expensive.
Making Dental Care Affordable for All
Did you know? The Canadian government recently declared it's commitment to provide a national dental care program. In 2022, the government implemented the first phase of the Canada Dental Benefit (CBD). It provides direct, up-front, tax-free payments to help cover out-of-pocket dental care expenses for children under 12 years of age who do not have access to private dental insurance and whose family income is less than $90,000 a year.
Other Tips for Good Oral Health
- Make sure you’re eating a balanced and nutritious diet that is low in sugar and has lots of fruits and veggies
- Smoking and other tobacco use is terrible for your oral health so cutting these is your best bet
- Avoid alcohol as much as possible because it is linked to many oral health issues
- Brush at least twice a day or after every meal for at least two minutes and don’t forget your tongue
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush or opt for an electric toothbrush option
- Floss at least once a day to get all the spots your toothbrush may miss
You’ve only got one smile so make sure you take care of it! Not just so you can flash those pearly whites, but so you can make sure you’re reducing your risk of disease or other health issues. April is the perfect opportunity to make sure you’ve got that check-up booked and that you’re not forgetting to floss.