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World Oral Health Day 2021
What is the history of World Oral Health Day?
World Oral Health Day was first declared in 2007 and was originally celebrated on 12 September - the birthdate of FDI founder Dr Charles Godon. However, the campaign was not fully activated until 2013, after the date was changed to 20 March to avoid conflict with the FDI World Dental Congress taking place in September.
The new date was chosen to reflect that:
- Seniors must have a total of 20 natural teeth at the end of their life to be considered healthy
- Children should possess 20 baby teeth
- Healthy adults must have a total of 32 teeth and 0 dental cavities
- Expressed on a numerical basis this can be translated as 3/20 hence March 20
What is the purpose of World Oral Health Day?
The World Dental Federation began World Oral Health Day in 2007 with the aim to bring together the world of Dentistry to achieve good oral health for everyone.
World Oral Health Day aims to empower people with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to secure good oral health. On the 20th of March each year the world is asked to come together to help reduce oral diseases which affect individuals, healthcare providers and economies everywhere.
Why is World Oral Health Day so important?
Oral diseases are a major health concern for many countries and negatively impact people throughout their lives. Oral diseases lead to pain and discomfort, social isolation and loss of self-confidence, and they can often be linked to other serious health issues. There is no reason to suffer as most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their early stages, this is the message being spread across the world.
Who is being targeted?
- Individuals to take control of their own oral health
- Schools and teachers to deliver learning activities about the importance of good oral health
- Dental professionals and the wider healthcare community
- Governments and policymakers to champion better oral health for all
How can you help?
World oral health day relies on individual action worldwide in each country to create a truly global movement. Oral healthcare providers are encouraged to use their local expertise to create awareness and roll-out WOHD in your community. Whatever you decide to do, however big or small, contributes to improving the oral health of populations globally.
For more information about how you can help please see the World Oral Health Day website.
So how do you take care of your teeth?
Achieving healthy teeth takes a lifetime of care. Even if you’ve been told that you have nice teeth, it’s crucial to take the right steps every day to take care of them and prevent problems. This involves getting the right oral care products, as well as being mindful of your daily habits.
1. Don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth
It’s no secret that the general recommendation is to brush at least twice a day. Still, many of us continue to neglect brushing our teeth at night. But brushing before bed gets rid of the germs and plaque that accumulate throughout the day.
2. Brush properly
The way you brush is equally important — in fact, doing a poor job of brushing your teeth is almost as bad as not brushing at all. Take your time, moving the toothbrush in gentle, circular motions to remove plaque. Unremoved plaque can harden, leading to calculus buildup and gingivitis (early gum disease).
3. Don’t neglect your tongue
Plaque can also build up on your tongue. Not only can this lead to bad mouth odor, but it can lead to other oral health problems. Gently brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.
4. Use a fluoride toothpaste
When it comes to toothpaste, there are more important elements to look for than whitening power and flavors. No matter which version you choose, make sure it contains fluoride. While fluoride has come under scrutiny by those worried about how it impacts other areas of health, this substance remains a mainstay in oral health. This is because fluoride is a leading defense against tooth decay. It works by fighting germs that can lead to decay, as well as providing a protective barrier for your teeth.
5. Treat flossing as important as brushing
Many who brush regularly neglect to floss. “Flossing is not just for getting those little pieces of Chinese food or broccoli that may be getting stuck in between your teeth,” says Jonathan Schwartz, DDS. “It’s really a way to stimulate the gums, reduce plaque, and help lower inflammation in the area.” Flossing once a day is usually enough to reap these benefits.
6. Don’t let flossing difficulties stop you
Flossing can be difficult, especially for young children and older adults with arthritis. Rather than give up, look for tools that can help you floss your teeth. Ready-to-use dental flossers from the drugstore can make a difference.
7. Consider mouthwash
Advertisements make mouthwash seem necessary for good oral health, but many people skip them because they don’t know how they work. Schwartz says mouthwash helps in three ways: It reduces the amount of acid in the mouth, cleans hard-to-brush areas in and around the gums, and re-mineralizes the teeth. “Mouthwashes are useful as an adjunct tool to help bring things into balance,” he explains. “I think in children and older people, where the ability to brush and floss may not be ideal, a mouthwash is particularly helpful.”
Ask your dentist for specific mouthwash recommendations. Certain brands are best for children, and those with sensitive teeth. Prescription mouthwash is also available.
8. Drink more water
Water continues to be the best beverage for your overall health — including oral health. Also, as a rule of thumb, Schwartz recommends drinking water after every meal. This can help wash out some of the negative effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages in between brushes.
9. Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables
Ready-to-eat foods are convenient, but perhaps not so much when it comes to your teeth. Eating fresh, crunchy produce not only contains more healthy fibre, but it’s also the best choice for your teeth. “I tell parents to get their kids on harder-to-eat and chew foods at a younger age,” says Schwartz. “So try to avoid the overly mushy processed stuff, stop cutting things into tiny pieces, and get those jaws working!”
10. Limit sugary and acidic foods
Ultimately, sugar converts into acid in the mouth, which can then erode the enamel of your teeth. These acids are what lead to cavities. Acidic fruits, teas, and coffee can also wear down tooth enamel. While you don’t necessarily have to avoid such foods altogether, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful.
11. See your dentist at least twice a year
Your own everyday habits are crucial to your overall oral health. Still, even the most dutiful brushers and flossers need to see a dentist regularly. At minimum, you should see your dentist for cleanings and check-ups twice a year. Not only can a dentist remove calculus and look for cavities, but they will also be able to spot potential issues and offer treatment solutions.
Some dental insurance companies even cover more frequent dental check-ups. If this is the case for you, take advantage of it. Doing so is especially helpful if you have a history of dental issues, such as gingivitis or frequent cavities.
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