Dr Sheliza Asaria, a general dentist based in Surrey, met with our Oral Health Champion, Aimee Finnis, to discuss the importance of oral health for our clients.
Why is oral health so important?
Oral health is important as it is part of overall well-being.
Poor oral health can adversely impact one’s general health and quality of life. For example, poor oral health can result in pain, difficulty chewing and speaking clearly, and affect your self-confidence.
Is a visit to the dentist needed if you don’t have teeth?
Many people mistakenly believe that only people with teeth need to visit a dentist regularly. A dentist not only checks your teeth but is also concerned with the health of your gums and soft tissues. A dentist will check that there are no signs of disease and will check for early signs of oral cancer. It is therefore strongly recommended to visit a dentist regularly, even if you do not have teeth.
If you wear full dentures, visit the dentist to check the fit of the dentures and the health of the soft tissues. If you wear partial dentures, the dentist will examine the remaining teeth to check that they are healthy. It is important to look after the remaining teeth, as these may affect the fit and comfort of your denture.
How many times a day should you brush your teeth?
I advise my patients to brush their teeth twice daily with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride helps to prevent decay. Also aim to clean between the teeth daily by use of floss or other interdental cleaning aids, such as interdental brushes.
Are sugars bad for the teeth?
Frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks can lead to decay, so I encourage patients to limit the consumption of these to mealtimes only.
Acidic foods and drinks are also something to be aware of as too much of these can lead to acid erosion of the teeth. Your dentist should check for any signs of erosion to your teeth and may advise you to limit the consumption of acidic foods and drinks to mealtimes only too.
What should I do if my arthritis is making brushing and flossing difficult?
Brushing and cleaning between your teeth is critical to reduce the risk of decay and gum disease. If health problems such as arthritis are making it difficult to clean your teeth, speak to your dentist and other members of the dental team for advice. If you are still able to hold and manipulate a toothbrush, you may prefer an electric toothbrush. Many electric toothbrushes have wider handles, making them easier to grip.
What does my oral health have to do with the rest of my health?
Good oral health can have a positive impact on your overall health. There is evidence to suggest that infections in the mouth can be linked with problems in other parts of the body.
Problems that may be made worse by poor dental health include:
- Heart disease.
Take steps to improve your oral health to reduce your risk of oral disease and infections.
Why do I get mouth ulcers?
Mouth ulcers are common and should clear up on their own within a week or 2. But see a GP or dentist if you have a mouth ulcer that lasts longer than 3 weeks. Although most mouth ulcers are harmless, a long-lasting mouth ulcer is sometimes a sign of mouth cancer. It’s best to get it checked.
Most single mouth ulcers are caused by things you can try to avoid such as:
- Biting the inside of your cheek
- Badly fitting dentures, rough fillings, or a sharp tooth
- Cuts or burns whilst drinking or eating
- Damaging your gums with a toothbrush or irritating toothpaste
Remember to seek advice from your GP or dentist if you have an ulcer that lasts longer than 3 weeks or if you have any other concerns relating to ulcers or lesions in the mouth.
Making sure your loved ones have access to a dentist and oral hygiene at home is the best way to keep their mouths healthy. For more information or to get advice on dental care then please visit: www.dentalhealth.org.