2018 Mar 20
World Oral Health Day essentially celebrates the importance of a healthy mouth. It is a severely underrated topic and while spreading awareness on the added benefits of proper oral care, it also covers oral disease and hygiene habits. Such a day can also call for funding for support, awareness campaigns and other dental programs for prevention and detection of such cases.
This year’s theme is “Say Ahh: Think Mouth, Think Health” which marks the start of a 3 year campaign into empowerment of oral care and therefore, your wellbeing. There is much emphasis on the following message- Oral care goes much further than just a pretty smile. It shares a direct link to your general wellbeing and on a harsher note, oral diseases also share common risk factors with other diseases such as diabetes or cancer.
“Say Ahh is a phrase that is commonly used by dentists and doctors during check-ups. It invites people to open their mouths for examination and brings to life the notion of the mouth serving as a mirror to the body and reflecting overall health. We want people to understand the mouth and body connection because the more informed they are about the impact of oral health on their general health, the more likely they will be to engage in preventive oral care routines.”
~Edoardo Cavalle, WOHD Task Team Chair
Despite having numerous specialists in the field, Sri Lanka’s rating when it comes to oral disease are still outrageously high- 58% in kids, 89% for the those middle aged and 98% for seniors. And if there are numerous qualified professionals at hand, the reasons for these high ratings must lie in our lifestyles.
So what is it about our lifestyles that could bring about such dramatic numbers?
This is one of the most popular methods by far to wreck your oral care. When betel leaf is combined with arecanut, it enables a stimulant feeling much like tobacco and other drugs and gives way to the possibility of mouth ulcers, tumors and cancers, amongst many other bodily problems.
The consequences of this habit are well known. It is essentially the same as betel chewing when it comes to oral care.
Sri Lanka has a higher than average addiction rate for alcohol. Tooth erosion is a common problem here due to the vomiting and food reflux. Alcohol can also give way to certain vitamin deficiencies that can result in a sore/swollen mouth or ulcers and tooth loss.
Carbonated Drinks and Sugary Foods
Amongst the younger generations, carbonated drinks are always considered heaven-sent. Sugary foods are something we all have a weakness for. Unfortunately both are packed with acids which results in tooth erosion.
Poor Promoting of Healthy Lifestyles
Institutionalized children have been found to be highly susceptible to dental disease. However, untrained caregivers of such institutions fall short of taking the right steps towards dental care.
Most of us don’t see going to the dentist as high priority. It gets swept away with all the work and other social callings and is most often forgotten. This is where this year’s theme is most emphasized as there is a direct line between oral care and your general wellbeing and it is something of equal status as the rest of your body.
Making sure you’re an all-round healthy human can be tough but it’s something that must be done nevertheless.
These are some simple ways us Sri Lankans can maintain our oral health:
• It is recommended that you not have more than 8 drinks per week (for women) and 15 for men.
• Sugary foods and beverages give way to bacteria that eat away at the tooth surface so make sure to brush your teeth if you have either.
• Using straws with sugary beverages also limits contact between the substance and your teeth.
• Avoid betel chewing and tobacco.
• If working in the education sector, introduce children at young ages itself to oral care messages along with general health. Promoting such healthy messages is vital to such a cause.
• Despite the busy work schedule, dedicate one day every 6 months for an appointment at the Dentist’s. Your mouth is extremely vulnerable to bacteria and it can give way to many more serious diseases as well so it’s best to do a routine check-up.
Remember – oral care goes far beyond a pretty smile. Think smart and think healthy about your well-being.