Let your dentist look after your overall health during April’s Oral Health Month

    Oral Health Month Stock image Smile. April is Oral Health Month.    Oral Health Month is an opportunity to shine a spotlight the importance of oral health. Specifically, it allows dental professionals to reaffirm the message that oral health is vital for overall health. Poor oral health can lead to severe pain and loss of teeth, and can greatly affect a person’s physical health. Researchers are just beginning to understand the relationship between oral health and other medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. While more studies are needed, the research does show that oral disease can aggravate other health problems and that keeping a healthy mouth is an important part of leading a healthy life. • The dental exam is one of the most important preventive measures you can take for your oral health. As the experts in oral health, dentists are trained to spot the early signs of dental disease, including tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer, which can be easily missed unless you know what you’re looking for. • While the twice-a-year dental visit works well with most people, your dentist will take into account your specific needs when determining the frequency of your dental exams. Your baby’s first visit should occur within six months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age. • Research has shown that bacteria that causes tooth decay is infectious – this means it can be passed from parents and caregivers to infants and toddlers. • Childhood tooth decay is the second most common cause of school absenteeism in Ontario. If left untreated, tooth decay can result in pain, infection, abscesses, malnutrition, gastrointestinal disorders and tooth loss. • Oral piercings can be hazardous for one’s oral health. They can lead to infection, nerve damage and injury to teeth and gums. • Older adults need to continue to focus on the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease. Aging can present other oral health complications such as dry mouth, gum disease and difficulty with dexterity, which can make the simplest tasks, such as tooth brushing, more difficult. • Persistent dry mouth can be a debilitating condition that could put sufferers at risk for greater oral health complications. Common causes of dry mouth include certain medications, tobacco use, diabetes and autoimmune disorders. • Stress can make lead to poor lifestyle choices – smoking, consuming too much alcohol and eating more sugary foods – which increases the risk of tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer. • Tooth sensitivity pain that is frequent, persistent and consistent could be a sign of a larger problem. • Halitosis, or bad breath, is most commonly caused by certain foods, tobacco or alcohol. If your bad breath is persistent it could be a sign of something more serious, such as gum disease or dry mouth. • Tobacco use may also be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal (gum) disease. Tobacco is also one of the major risk factors for oral cancer and cancer of the esophagus and voice box. • Most dental injuries caused by sports accidents can be prevented by wearing a mouthguard. • Tooth decay and gum disease never take a holiday. When you’re on vacation, don’t take a break from your good oral health routines. Schedule a dental visit to make sure any problems are dealt with before you go away. If you have any questions about your oral health, talk to your dentist! Have a happy and healthy Oral Health Month!

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