For too long our oral health has been considered to be a separate entity to our overall health. The typical belief is that having good oral health means having a nice smile, and that tooth decay is an inevitable part of life. The reality is, in fact, that oral health and general health are inextricably linked, the appearance of your teeth is only one aspect of good oral health, and there is nothing inevitable about oral diseases such as tooth decay.

This message is the focus of World Oral Health Day, which is celebrated annually on March 20. By initiating this event, the FDI World Dental Federation aims to raise awareness of the importance of good oral health and its significance in safeguarding general health and well-being.

Recent studies have identified a clear link between poor oral health and general health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, premature birth or low birth weight and respiratory (lung) disease. While research is yet to determine exactly how this relationship occurs, it is clear the presence of oral conditions can negatively impact on the treatment and management of other health issues. Even for those not suffering from the types of health issues previously listed, the presence of oral disease can affect many aspects of daily life, from personal relations to self-confidence and to the ability to consume and enjoy food.

Given the significant impact the mouth has on overall wellbeing, it is essential to know how to achieve and maintain good oral health. Adopting good habits, having regular active maintenance and avoiding risk factors are all crucial factors for good oral health.

Good oral hygiene habits ideally formed from an early age include brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, flossing once daily and using a fluoridated toothpaste.

Supplementing your oral care routine with biannual examinations and professional cleaning at Medland Dental (also known as active maintenance) is the best way to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy. Dental examinations allow for early detection and treatment of any dental problems, resulting in a more favourable outcome. Even with good personal oral hygiene habits, professional cleaning is essential for removing the inevitable build of plaque and calculus.

Our food and lifestyle choices can also put our oral health at risk. Healthy diets that are low in sugar and high in fruit and vegetables is a great way to protect our mouth and body. Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol while not consuming tobacco at all are additional ways to reduce risk.

One unexpected risk factor is the impact that health funds may have on the quality of dental care some dental practices can provide. It is an unfortunate fact in the dental industry right now that many dental practices are obliged to offer care and treatment based not on the patient’s needs but on the financial and time constraints dictated by the terms of their ‘preferred provider’ contracts. As an independent practice, Medland Dental has a long history of supporting our patients to achieve optimal oral health through our commitment to providing unbiased and uncompromising dentistry in combination with genuine patient care and attention, that is understanding, warm and gentle.