Alongside Health Canada, the Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry dedicates the month of April to oral health awareness. Oral health problems are painful and costly, affecting millions of people each year. What many fail to realize is that poor oral health can lead to many seemingly unrelated medical conditions. In fact, oral bacteria and oral disease have been linked to a variety of serious illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and pregnancy complications.
Keep your oral health in good shape by practicing the following:
- Drink fluoridated water and use fluoride toothpaste.
- Take care of your teeth and gums. Thoroughly brushing and flossing can reduce dental plaque and prevent gingivitis.
- Avoid tobacco. In addition to the many other health risks posed by tobacco, smokers have four times the risk of developing gum disease as non-smokers. Tobacco use in any form—cigarette, pipe or smokeless spit tobacco—increases the risk for gum disease, oral and throat cancers, and an oral fungal yeast infection called candidiasis.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Heavy use of alcohol is a risk factor for oral and throat cancers. When used alone, alcohol and tobacco are both risk factors for oral cancers, but the effects are even greater when used together.
- Eat wisely. Adults should avoid snacks with sugars and starches. Limit the number of snacks eaten throughout the day.
Above all, you should visit the dentist regularly. Check-ups can detect early signs of oral health problems, helping you address concerns as they arise.