Every year, the Oral Health Foundation celebrates National Smile Month, the UK’s biggest and longest-running campaign to promote good oral health. This year, National Smile Month will take place from the 14th May to the 14th June, encouraging anyone with an interest in oral healthcare to join in and communicate positive oral health messages, ultimately making smiles throughout the UK healthier.
The idea of National Smile Month is that thousands of organisations and individuals work together to spread three key messages, all of which contribute to helping us maintain good oral health. The messages are:
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion every day – be sure to use a fluoride toothpaste.
- Cut down how many sugary foods and drinks you consume.
- Make regular visits to your dentist – as often as they recommend that you do.
To celebrate National Smile Month and spread the word of the importance of keeping your mouth healthy, we would like to talk about how keeping your teeth and gums healthy contributes to improved overall health.
It’s well known that poor oral health and tooth decay can result in a few problems, including discoloured teeth, bad breath or in some scenarios, missing teeth. However, the repercussions of poor oral health don’t necessarily stop at the mouth. Poor dental health has also been linked with a range of health problems, including:
Research suggests that people with gum disease are as much as twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease when compared with people with good oral health. Bacteria from the mouth can get in to the bloodstream, causing all manner of problems. When the bacteria produce protein, this can cause the platelets of the blood to stick together in the blood vessels, making blood clots more likely to form and reducing blood flow and preventing the heart from getting the oxygen and nutrients that it needs. When blood flow is affected in such a way, this leaves people much more prone to heart attacks.
Studies have found that there are links between mouth infections and strokes and that people who have suffered strokes are more likely to have suffered from gum disease. When the bacteria from gum disease causes the blood vessels to be inflamed, this can also block the blood supply from getting to the brain, which can lead to a stroke.
Generally, people with diabetes are more likely to suffer from gum disease as they are more likely to suffer from infections. It’s important that diabetic people visit their dentist regularly as undiagnosed gum disease can be dangerous as it can increase blood sugar.
It is believed that bacterial chest infections are caused by breathing in droplets from the throat and mouth into the lungs, so people with gum disease may be more likely to suffer from chest infections. Bacterial chest infections can lead to significant health problems such as pneumonia, or worsen existing conditions, so maintaining good oral health is vital for helping to prevent lung disease.
Research suggests that pregnant women suffering from gum disease are much more likely to have a premature birth, or a baby that is born at a low weight. Studies point to gum disease raising the levels of chemicals that bring on labour, making the risk of a premature birth higher. Receiving proper treatment for gum disease during pregnancy can help to considerably reduce the associated risks.
To find out more about National Smile Month, learn about ways to keep your mouth healthy or to arrange a dental check-up, please call us today on 0800 0154 222.