Oral health plays a vital role in our health and well-being, yet it is an area often plagued by various myths and misconceptions. Many people underestimate the greater impact of dental health on their general health. Poor oral health can have a compound effect on more serious long-term health issues.
Stats On Oral Health
According to the World Health Organisation about 3.5 billion people, out of about 8 billion people across the globe, are affected by oral disease. More so, the number of those with oral health problems equates to about 1 billion more cases than all five major non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers, and mental disorders combined.
Brushing Away Dental Health Myths
The figures above highlight the real importance of better education around matters of oral health for communities at large. To help people make informed decisions about their dental care, we help debunk some common oral health myths.
Myth 1: Oral health only impacts the mouth
One of the most common misconceptions is that oral health only impacts the mouth. In reality, oral health has far-reaching effects on our health and well-being. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a host of issues and diseases beyond tooth decay and gum disease.
According to the inaugural report on the global oral disease burden from the World Health Organisation (WHO), gum disease ranks second only to the common cold in terms of prevalence. Research has also linked oral health issues to serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory infections, and even dementia. By neglecting oral health, we put ourselves at risk of developing systemic health problems.
Myth 2: Brushing harder is better
Many people believe that brushing harder equates to better results. Yet, this notion is false and can cause more harm to your teeth and gums. Brushing too vigorously can erode tooth enamel, damage gum tissue, and cause tooth sensitivity.
The recommended practice is to brush gently, using a soft-bristled toothbrush, for two minutes, twice a day. It’s also important to replace toothbrushes every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed.
With modern technology, there are more efficient ways to care for your teeth and gums. Using a good quality electric toothbrush can help you improve your brushing technique. It’s also best to avoid over-brushing and personalize your brushing routine to the specific needs of your teeth and gums.
Ensuring the basics of oral hygiene are implemented daily can help avoid bigger, more costly dental issues.
Myth 3: Oral health is only important for those that can afford it
Oral health is essential for all, as poor oral health can impact nutrition, health, and well-being. Regular dental check-ups, proper oral hygiene practices, and a healthy diet can help maintain optimal oral health, leading to better health and quality of life.
One thing that many don’t realize is that in most countries, dental care is often not included in basic health insurance packages. In fact, it must be covered out-of-pocket or as an add-on insurance cost. Unfortunately, this makes the preventative power of oral health costly for individuals, who typically choose not to purchase dental coverage and only visit their dentist for emergencies.
In fact, around 75% of people suffering from oral diseases live in low to middle-income countries. The economic impact of unmanaged oral health adds up to an estimated $54 billion loss of productivity for employers, largely due to absence from work.
Understanding the connectedness between oral health and systemic health is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Dispelling these common myths aids individuals in prioritizing oral health, adopting sound daily oral hygiene habits, and seeking out regular professional dental care. Taking care of our mouths not only ensures a beautiful smile but also contributes to overall better health and improved quality of life.
MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: antoniodiaz/shutterstock
Who is the author?
Ndungu Wanjohi is a keen team player having had numerous experiences managing multifunctional teams and coupled with his strategic ability has led global projects for Unilever based in South Africa and more recently with Avon based in the UK and South Africa.
In his category management role, his initiatives have resulted in increased awareness, press coverage, successful advertising campaigns, and winning brand strategies and awards (both locally and abroad).