As of 2013, World Oral Health Day is celebrated on March 20th. This year’s theme is, “It all starts here. Healthy mouth. Healthy body.” The World Dental Federation encourages everyone to take part in the oral health initiative. According to the organization, 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral disease in their lifetime. However, that statistic is avoidable with prevention, detection, and treatment programs. Taking care of one’s teeth and gums is an important part of maintaining wellness.
According to WebMD.com, new research suggests that gum disease can lead to other more serious health problems. One of them is an increased risk of heart disease. Brushing at least twice daily and flossing are basics for a healthy mouth. Peter Jaret, author of Healthy Teeth for Life: 10 Tips for Families, offers simple ways to practice good oral hygiene. He suggests starting early. Along with dental professionals, he believes dental care should start when a child’s first tooth appears. Applying dental sealants to a child’s permanent molars can prevent tooth decay. The proper use of fluoride can strengthen tooth enamel. Other tips from Jaret include avoiding sugary foods, rinsing with an antibacterial rinse, chewing sugar-free gum after meals, eating foods rich in omega-3 fats, and not smoking. Dental check-ups every 6 months allow a dentist or dental hygienist to remove plaque build up, check for early signs of oral cancer or gum disease, and detect wear and tear from bruxism (teeth grinding).
Parents and guardians can communicate the importance of oral health to children in several ways. The most important way is by modeling good oral hygiene. Another important way is by educating children about why taking care of their teeth and gums is important. KidsHealth.org posted a kid-friendly article titled, Taking Care of Your Teeth. The article is available in English and Spanish (with an audio button that makes it possible for the article to be read electronically if desired).
Exposing young children to books and other literature about dental care is a good idea. Sun Valley Pediatric Dentistry in Arizona posted a list of their favorite books for teaching children about dental care. Meet the Hygiene Team featuring Neat and Tidy was added to the American Dental Association Library’s circulating collection of Children’s Books on Dentistry. “The uniqueness of the characters and their use to promote oral hygiene makes it a wonderful addition to the ADA Library,” wrote Carolann Sansone, ADA Librarian. [Click “view all 17 photos” to read Meet the Hygiene Team featuring Neat and Tidy online.]
Products that make brushing fun encourage children to practice good oral hygiene. Brush Buddies is a company that sells products with that in mind. Their powered and manual toothbrushes, as well as other oral care products, are available for people of all ages. Brush Buddies Spin Brite toothbrushes allow users to write their name (or a message up to 10 characters) in lights on the brush’s handle. The customized message will play for the dentist-recommended brushing time of two minutes.
The motto of the Hygiene Team is, “Good hygiene is good health.” World Oral Health Day is about raising awareness that good hygiene includes taking care of one’s teeth and gums for disease prevention. That’s something to smile about.