Every year March 20th is observed as World Oral Health Day. This day intends to spread awareness on dental diseases and their impact on general health. The theme of this year is "Be proud of your mouth". The human mouth can be considered as a real-time reflector of systemic diseases.
Many systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, cancers, lung disorders, allergic disorders, gastrointestinal problems, etc. may show the first signs and symptoms in the mouth.
Poor oral hygiene has been found to be instrumental in the aggravation of many of these diseases. We can be proud of our mouth by treating it the proper way. You can keep in mind ten important points so that you can be mouth proud.
» Make sure that you brush your teeth twice daily and floss between the teeth once daily preferably at night.
» Spending two minutes daily for self-examination of the mouth and make sure that there are no red or white changes or non-healing ulcers in the areas such as lips, tongue, gums, palate, and floor of the mouth.
» Understanding the fact that professional tooth cleaning or scaling doesn't cause any damage to the enamel and it is just a myth to be busted at. Instead scaling twice in a year improves your oral health.
» Refraining from the habit of inserting foreign objects such as toothpicks pins etc will increase the longevity of your gums.
» Avoid smoking as it will worsen your gums and your teeth will fall off earlier and also it increases the risk of having oral cancer.
» Including plenty of foods like fruits and vegetables daily in your diet which are abundant sources of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
» Understanding the fact that untreated gum disease often badly affects your glycemic control and hence diabetic persons need more attention on dental care.
» Maintaining proper dental hygiene is important during pregnancy also as it may affect the health of newborn baby also.
» Keep a check on your toothbrush and discard it once the bristles get frayed or if not replace the brush every three months
» When you notice signs such as bleeding gums, bad breath, sensitive teeth, jaw joint pain and discomfort, cavities, etc seek dental care at the earliest.
Don't wait until you have reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take towards reaching that goal.
(Dr.Manikandan GR is Convenor, Council on Dental Health, Indian Dental Association, Thiruvananthapuram.)